"Quitting Youth Ministry"

Danny S


There is no greater lesson in youth ministry, I think, than knowing when to quit... Some of us work too long at it - too hard at it - and we end up wondering why it isn't working. I have to accept the fact that there are going to be many of my kids who just don't latch on, don't dig in, and - doggoneit - don't enjoy my teaching...

So I have decided to quit...

But the best part is - I get to keep my job!

I decided to quit just a couple Wednesday nights ago, when our group had gone into our worship time and the Spirit really seemed to be moving. I could see - in front of me - many of my core kids really connecting - not just with the band and the music, but with God in very deep and personal ways... It was the kind of worship that we long to see in our kids! Sincere, personal, passionate, varied between the energy of the raising of hands and kneeling to the humility of hands in pockets and heads down...

As I stood there and just took it all in, I knew that worship was happening...

In front of me, anyway..

Behind me - well that's a horse of a different color. That's where the Jr High boys stand.

Great kids - don't get me wrong - but while their friends were crowding the front of the room awash in the Spirit of worship, these six junior high guys stood in the back, fiddling with something that crackled like the plastic off a cigarette pack and giggled about who knows what. There whispers at times were hardly whispers and their focus on what was happening in the front of the room - well they probably had no idea what was going on.

So - as I tried to worship some great monster inside of me wanted to jump out of the back of my neck and rip Junior high boys limb from limb. "Why can't you focus?!? Why can't you set aside twenty minutes out of your measly little lives to worship the One who made your puny little frames?!? Isn't the God who is currently keeping me from killing you worth twenty minutes of praise???" I wanted to scream it, with my hands wrapped tightly around their weak little necks...

And that's when I quit...

I just up and quit youth ministry...

With a powerful hand around my own neck, God said to me "This is your worship too... It's not just the kids on the front who are getting it or the kids on the back who are missing it... It's yours... And those boys on the back who you are about to have an aneurysm about - they AREN'T yours. They're mine. Let me do whatever ripping needs to be done. They're mine."

"As for you - see the opportunity right in front of you?" And I did. A room where worship was - where 75 kids were connecting with God as if they were the only ones in the room. "Now - let Me do My work, you have done yours... You are off the clock and free to worship..."

"Okay..." I said, as God's meaty hand let go of my throat, "Then I quit... They are Yours... Do with them what I haven't been able to."

The most incredible thing happened - I really worshipped! I mean, I REALLY did! Behind me, the crackling and cackling continued... In front of me the connecting continued... But right where I was - off the clock, just a guy alone with God - I was able to worship...

There really is a time when the programming and paranoia of youth ministry has to stop and you have to build that bubble around yourself and not worry about kids who just don't get it or events that just aren't ready or things that don't go as planned... There is that time - and I think we very often miss it - when youth ministry is a job that we aren't going to do right now.

"Remeber how you loved me when I called you? Remember how you sought Me out when you were so frightened about following where I was leading you? Remember how much faith it took to finally give in and follow? Where did that go just now when you wanted to kill the kids who didn't get it?"

I think back to that vital moment when I knew I was coming to FBC... It wasn't at a time when I thought I was the best guy for the job - although I really hoped I'd get it! It was on a trail deep in the woods when God drove me to my knees after a Bible study about Gideon, that "valient warrior" that acted everybit like a coward... It was that moment that God said "I don't care what anyone else says about you - I see a youth pastor." I remember how unworthy I felt, knowing so far ahead of time that I was going to be selected to a really awesome post that so many "better qualified" guys where after - all because God saw something in me that no one else would see...

Maybe God sees something in those crackling, cackling Jr High boys that I am missing... And maybe I just need to hold my tongue and punch the time clock and worship... Maybe then, God can smile over both of us...
Back to the Soapbox