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If You Weren’t the Youth Pastor … Would You Go to Your Church?

I hear this all the time—and want to just throw it out there and shine some light on it. Here goes:

Is it wrong or unhealthy for a youth pastor to work at a church he or she would never attend? Is it uncommon for youth pastors and a sign that I’m in the wrong place?

What a great question! First, don’t freak out and do something rash. There are seasons of everyone’s ministry where they face challenges and may feel this way. Hang in there! Maybe God has called you to that church to help lead into some serious change. Don’t run just yet.

However, it isn’t ideal and it’s probably not something sustainable the long term. You have to be able to take care of your own faith before you can care for and lead others. And if you’re graduating seniors into a church that doesn’t agree on philosophy/style of student ministry, it isn’t going to be long before it creates crises for families when their students reach college age then don’t assimilate into the congregation.

In the short term, not wanting to attend the church you’re serving at isn’t the end of the world. Maybe you’re getting some ministry experience and want to get something on your resume. Maybe the church is experiencing a shift in leadership or a season of difficulty, and you’ll help them weather it.

Keep in mind that it is generally difficult to worship at a church that you work at, even if you like the worship style and leadership. Maybe find a service at a church in the area (be sure to drive a little way away from your church) and worship there at an alternate worship time. It is hard to worship at a church where you are so known and always on.

If you’re just starting out and reading this—remember, when you are interviewed to work at a church, you are also interviewing the church. Think about you and your family sitting in that church week after week. And if you’re going into a church position hoping to drastically change the church, it’s probably not going to happen.

What would you add to these thoughts?  

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jgriffin@churchleaders.com'
Josh Griffin is high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co-counder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and host of the Youth Ministry Garage Podcast. He's authored more than 20 youth ministry resources and is the author of "99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders" with Doug Fields. Josh is a father of 4 who speaks a little, podcasts a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot. You can find him at DownloadYouthMinistry.com!