Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders The Bait and Switch of Ministry

The Bait and Switch of Ministry

Probably the most obvious example of this is the Car Dealership that will advertise a great price on one car to get you to the dealership…but when you get there, that particular car is gone and you’re directed to a higher priced one.

I’ve been told that Online Dating Services have a bait/switch theme to them. Description: Male, handsome, 30 years old, works for 24 Hour Fitness. An accompanied photo is of a handsome stud. Actual: 44 years old, works at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and is trying out for Biggest Loser.

Working in the church for 30 years has made me front row to some different bait/switch scenarios. Regardless of the type of ministry you do: children’s, youth, family, adult, senior, or associate pastor…it doesn’t matter…leaders grab onto one type of bait expectation and get switched to another expectation.

I don’t believe the intention is to diabolically trick anyone, but during the course of ministry to people, it just happens. And with each one, I’ve found that there’s usually a significant learning that moves us from the bait to the switch.

I’ve experienced several; some you may be able to identify with:

Bait: to be good in ministry—you just need to love teenagers.
Switch: to be good in ministry—you must develop leaders.


Bait: just grow the ministry.
Switch: growth requires different skill-sets and now you must manage your ministry growth.

Bait: to be effective, you must master leadership.
Switch: to be effective, you must master pressure, and this requires inner world management.

There’s many more that I’ve experienced, and I’m sure you’ve experienced your fair share of them, too. I’d like to know what yours are.

What do you think?

Question: What’s a ministry bait and switch you’ve experienced?  

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Doug Fields has been in youth ministry since 1979 and former pastor to students at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He's the author of 50+ books, including the best-selling Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry & Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. He's also the founder of Simply Youth Ministry, an instructor at Azusa Pacific University/HomeWord, and on the leadership team with Youth Specialties. You can connect with Doug through his blog at www.downloadyouthministry.com! More from Doug Fields or visit/subscribe to Doug's blog at www.dougfields.com