The 2018 Youth Pastor Compensation survey had 297 full-time female Youth Pastors who participated in our 2018 data collecting, making up about 14% of the respondent workforce. We had another 219 part-time women participate, adding another 10% to our workforce. Our data is skewed heavily towards men, as there were 383 part-time male Youth Pastors and over 1,100 full-time; meaning about 76% of male YP’s are full-time while only 58% of female YP’s are full-time. So, right away, we can easily point out that our data suggests there are three times as many male Youth Pastors as their are female, and nearly 20% more of them are full-time.
We are currently wrapping up our second group of the Onramp Cohort of the Youth Ministry Coaching Program. It’s been so great and encouraging. We’re looking forward to launching the next one later this Spring.
What is the Onramp Cohort? It’s an online training approach focused on skills and priorities needed by people in their first few years of youth ministry.
In my experience there are two big factors that drive people out of professional youth ministry.
- Burnout – We are a tribe that works too hard, for too many hours, for too long, and forgets to take care of ourselves. One of the things my co-laborer at The Youth Cartel, Mark Oestreicher, says is, “A healthy youth ministry starts with a healthy youth worker.” I’ve seen this play out time and again throughout my career. Sadly, many of us drop out of youth ministry– and ministry altogether– because of the impact of burnout.
- Compensation – When I started out in youth ministry I think I was just amazed that I got paid for doing what I loved and was called by God to do. But then my wife and I had kids, bought a house, started thinking about the future, started dealing with the expenses of raising a family… adult life got expensive! Over the years I’ve watched an enormous amount of my friends leave youth ministry for other types of ministry or other careers altogether over compensation issues.
These two items are inter-related. In our Youth Ministry Coaching Program cohorts we work hard on the first item, helping youth workers develop life rhythms that promote longevity in ministry. And we’re thankful to partner with Dan Navarra to bring issues around compensation to the forefront.
It’s been a great year here at The Youth Cartel and with 2019 fast approaching we want to make sure we celebrate our top selling books & curriculum of 2018!
We all know youth workers are underpaid.
Fellow youth worker Dan Navarra set out on a simple mission last year to do something about it. He created his first compensation survey to get fellow youth workers the information they needed to have an informed conversation with their church about their compensation.
For most youth ministries around the country this week is huge as you launch your fall programming.
Sure, you’ve not even finished your expense reports from all the summer stuff, but hey… it’s go time! LAUNCH WEEK! Without further ado, here’s some tips to make the most of Launch Week.
5 Tips for Launch Week
- Fun! It might sound crazy to mention, but don’t forget to make your Launch Week fun. Why? Because when people have a good time, when they laugh, when they act a little silly, they let their guard down. See, having fun isn’t just the opposite of being boring, it’s also highly functional. Whether it’s with games, skits, funny videos, or something else… fun levels the playing field and gets everyone on the same page.
- Vision! Imagine you’re a middle or high school student. The first couple weeks of school are all about casting vision as each class goes over what they’ll learn, what to expect, and how to prepare yourself to come to class. Your Launch Week should do the same thing. If you’ve got a big, over-arching vision for the school year this is the time to share it. “What are we trying to accomplish together this year?” Don’t make the mistake of launching into a 6-week series without casting some big vision for the year to come.
- Teasers! During the first couple of weeks, as you’re casting vision, as you’re having fun– shamelessly tease big items on your ministry calendar for the year to come. Is it the Fall retreat? Is it the Spring Break Mission Trip? Is it camp next summer? Start talking about it right now so that your group will start looking forward to it… and more importantly, they’ll put it on their family calendar.
- Announce, announce, announce! During Launch Week you’re going to repeat yourself a lot.During Launch Week you’re going to repeat yourself a lot. And that’s OK. Families are establishing new schedules and routines and you need to over announce things to make sure your stuff gets in. Don’t assume they know anything, say it over and over again. “We meet Wednesday nights at what time?”
- Train your volunteers! At the end of the day, volunteers need to know a lot more than when to show up and what to do. They need to know WHY you are doing things, they need to know HOW they fit into your vision, they need to know HOW to prepare for each week.
Ready to get a Masters Degree in Launch Week? Do all of this with parents, too. I mean… that’s who is actually getting them there, right?
Yesterday I felt “the turn“. You might call it something else and there might be a better term for it, but it’s that moment in the summer when things turn from the endless days of Summer towards Fall.
My 17 year old is studying multiple languages and chemistry over summer break just to get a jump start, she thinks calculus is fun, and she reads complex literature in her spare time. The truth is that she’s really not that unusual. This is what today’s high school students do.
Summer is mission trip season for many of us in youth ministry and my social media feeds are currently full of pictures and comments celebrating the wonderful, beautiful, Jesus-led moments surrounding short-term mission trips. I love it. It’s awesome.
Strangely, many of the same people fill up my fall and winter social media feeds asking for advice or feedback on options for next summer’s trip. Why submit yourself to the effort, stress, and vision-casting needed to make a new trip happen, when you already have had an experience full of wonderful, beautiful, Jesus-led moments on a short-term mission trip?
So, in a selfish effort to clean up my youth ministry social media feeds this winter, I want to make life easier for you. I want to pass along a youth ministry shortcut that I’m passionate about. A “hack,” if you will, to make sure your mission trip next year is both less stressful to plan, and more honoring of those you serve.
Book the same trip, to the same location, at the same time of year.
I understand the temptation to choose new locations each year for your mission trips.
- Variety keeps things interesting
- Your teens (and you!) enjoy visiting new locations and cultures
- The hope that “maybe this year your teens will be more excited about going to _________ than when hardly anyone signed up last year when you went to __________.”
But each of those reasons are far more about us than they are about honoring those we are serving.
When we choose to invest in the same area, the same city, the same neighborhoods, and the same people we open ourselves, and our teens, up to a consistency that God honors in fruitful ways. The resulting relationships end up being far more mutual, honoring, and formational than what we usually experience on a one-off trip. (You can read a little more about my personal experience with consistent mission trips HERE)
Consistency isn’t valued nearly enough by youth pastors when it comes to mission trips.
Consistency means you get to know and trust an organization more and more while they get the opportunity to know and trust your group.
Consistency means there’s a likelihood of seeing the same folks year after year and actually building meaningful relationships with them, instead of a one-time interaction.
Consistency means you and your church get to see the active, ongoing work of God outside of your normal context at home.
Consistency means that it will be a lot more difficult to fall into the unhelpful, but all too common, trap of swooping in to an area as (likely) white, middle class people playing savior for a week, never to be seen again.
So, if you have already returned from a week of service, love, and community on a short-term mission trip – awesome. Want to know the most important thing you can do in the wake of such a profound experience?
Call up the organization you went through and sign up to do it again next summer. Sign up for the same city, the same community, and, if possible, the same service partners.
Maybe you are still gearing up for you group’s trip, and have high expectations of the wonderful, beautiful, Jesus-led moments that are about to happen. Awesome. Want to know the most important thing you can do if those hopes and dreams are fulfilled?
Call up the organization you went through and sign up to do it again next summer. Sign up for the same city, the same community, the same service partners.
Maybe you recently returned from a mission trip and it went horribly. The organization you worked with was unprepared, disorganized, and dishonoring of the folks you were serving. Don’t sign up with them again! Find a better mission trip option and do that next summer! But then stick with that trip for the coming years.
I truly pray that each and every trip this summer has expanded you and your group’s concept of just how big and how active God is in our world. And how big and active a role they get to play in that world. If that was (or will be) the case for you this summer, go ahead and make the call. And next year go back to the same area, the same city, the same neighborhoods, and the same people. Watch how God honors the work and those relationships and consistency grows year after year.
Brad Hauge is a lifelong resident of the great Pacific Northwest and has survived this youth ministry thing for 15 years in spite of crippling introversion. He is currently the Director of Student Ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Spokane, where he lives with his wife and daughters- who are far better humans than he is.
Season Two of 13 Reasons Why released May 18th. With its top-shelf ranking in all of our Netflix accounts—it’s fair to assume our students are watching it. Despite its TV-MA rating, teens are binge watching content that highlights intense issues in graphically dramatized, highly emotional narratives. Continue reading A Youth Workers Response to 13 Reasons Why