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Dear Youth Pastor: a Letter from a Volunteer

Dear youth pastor,

I love students, I really do. I’ve been involved in youth ministry for six years now and I love hanging out with teens and trying to model a life with Jesus to them. But lately, things have become harder and it’s not that much fun anymore. I just wanted to explain to you why.

Unlike you, youth ministry isn’t my job. Don’t get me wrong, I love serving in youth ministry, but it’s something I do for God, not because I get paid for it. It’s not my job. I have a job where I work 40 plus hours a week. And I also have a family. So in all honesty, youth ministry isn’t my first priority, nor my second, and maybe not even my third. God comes first, then my family and then my job, because I actually want to provide for my family.

So if I have to make decisions regarding youth ministry, please note that I will do this according to these priorities. I can’t always put youth ministry first, I’ll end up losing either my job or my family. Or my sanity for that matter.

I know you need more leaders, I realize that there are way too few volunteers in the youth ministry. I’ve seen good people leave the last couple of years and few new volunteers coming in. So I understand you’re short-staffed and need hands to be able to organize activities for the students.

But I can’t keep pitching in, I can’t keep doing the stuff others are supposed to do. I need you to understand that and I need you to stop asking me. If you don’t, I’ll have no choice but to quit and you’ll end up with even fewer leaders.

You have to respect my boundaries. I’m already dead tired after a week’s work, so I don’t have the time or the energy to do two meetings and a training you asked me to come to this week this week, let alone in combination with leading small group and coming to youth night Sunday night. I haven’t talked to my spouse at all this week and I’ve hardly played with my kids, so I’m gonna have to say no to some of your requests. And I need you to understand that, to respect that and even support that.

Can I just make the bold suggestion that you scale down on the activities and events? That you focus on the small groups and those activities where you need little preparations, like youth nights and just hanging out together?

I don’t mind coming to church for a night of chilling with the students or going out for a pizza. That’s actually rather relaxing for me as well. But asking me to do a lock-in, to organize a praise night or do a message, that’s something else entirely. Couldn’t we maybe let go of all the fluff and focus on just being there for the students, just talking about life and Jesus and things that matter?

I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job. After all, you got the degree in youth ministry and I don’t. I mean, what do I know, I’m only a volunteer.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know.

God bless,

One of your small group leaders

[Photo credit: Free Images STXC cc]
Posted on 2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Dear Youth Pastor: a Letter from a Volunteer

  1. Hi,
    Greetings in Jesus name. This is Joel Baroi from Bangladesh (Southern Asia Country). I’m a National Youth Ministry Coordinator of with more than 200 Churches of a denomination and besides I’m a Youth Pastor of my Church. I have my Senior Pastor of my Church. I feel my youth group is dying and National Youth Ministry is stacked. It’s not growing. I felt I need a mentor some one me to help. Can you help me and how you can help me.
    Please keep in your prayer.
    God bless.

  2. “After all, you got the degree in youth ministry and I don’t. I mean, what do I know, I’m only a volunteer.” I love the sarcasm here. I don’t have a degree in anything and volunteers are like Gods, you probably know more than I do.

    Great blog! I love that we’re getting back to relationships.

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