In a youth ministry career, deciding whether to accept a new position can be complicated. From the outside, some churches look like they’re highly successful, and many are doing well. But whether it’s the right fit for you is the key question.
Unfortunately, many youth workers take a job simply because it’s available. I’ve met youth ministers who’ve said “yes” without looking at a job description or knowing anything more than the church name. This approach is dangerous and probably one reason turnover is so high in the field.
Are you looking for a youth ministry job or thinking about starting over? First make sure you know (and like) the answers to the questions below.
4 Questions to Ask Before a Youth Ministry Career Move
1. How would you define success in this position?
Before you take any job, it’s essential to know what people expect. When you ask them to define success, you’re asking for a vision. If you don’t feel motivated by what they tell you, then it’s probably best to leave.
Don’t tell yourself you can change their vision to match yours. If it’s misaligned, you’ll cause unneeded stress and conflict. Although you can disagree on strategy, having a different idea of success is harmful to you and the church. And remember: Just because you disagree doesn’t make either of you bad people.
2. What is the flow of the schedule and calendar?
Different parishes have different work ethics. Some enjoy telecommuting, while others focus on staff presence. Which one is better for you depends on your current season in life (e.g., new parent) and how you work best (e.g., collaborative worker). Before you accept a new youth ministry career role, determine what a typical workweek looks like for an employee there.
- Do you have to work on weekends?
- Can you solidify two days off?
- What time do people come into work?
- What are the policies for sick, personal, and vacation time?
- How many meetings do you need to attend?
- What does it look like during holidays and certain seasons in the church?
It comes down to what your current work ethic can handle. As someone who has family out of state, working weekends is difficult. Before I had children, I could work any hours. But now that I have a family, their schedules impact my time.
Don’t accept a job until you have a clear idea of your work hours. Ask the church to give you a calendar of events. Then don’t be afraid to state your limits (e.g., You Can’t Work Saturdays Due to Family Limitations). Whether you’re single, married, parents or not, you’re entitled to time off and a reasonable work schedule. If you don’t negotiate it now, it will be hard to do it later.