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Swapping Youth Ministry For Church Planting

Over the past year I have really been thinking about why so many youth pastors transition from youth ministry to church planting?

My emotional venting:  I have had many youth ministry friends get the church planting bug.  I have been so excited for them, but selfishly bummed.  I miss my ex-youth ministry friends and the rich conversations with them.  They pushed me to dream big all while thinking contextually and practically.

Seemingly, the youth ministry field is like college football and church planting is like the NFL.  Many of the talented guys and gals who know how to contextualize, fundraise, remain faithful to the Scriptures, and engage culture get drafted or called to the big leagues.  Some of the best church planters were former youth pastors.  The American teenage population is one of the hardest generations to reach.  If a former youth pastor can effectively reach disenfranchised teenagers he/she will most likely know how to strategically reach the 20-30 something crowd who doesn’t give a rip about church.

Let me be clear:  I am NOT bashing church planting.  I am selfishly looking out for the youth ministry field.  I love church planting and planters. I deeply respect and admire the peeps that just go for it, especially since planting is so hard.  I have learned a lot from church planters. In fact, I think there are a lot of similarities between practices of youth ministry and church planting.  There is no other ministry vocation in the church that compares to youth ministry, except for church planting.

My main question:  Why do some youth pastors stay in youth ministry for the long haul and others plant?

Why  (I think) Youth Pastors Decide To Plant:

–  Increase Impact

–  Frustrated with church senior leadership and church politics

–  Execute an ecclesiology that is rooted in Christology, missiology, and culture

–  Able to preach on a weekly basis

–  Utilize and cultivate all spiritual giftings

My secondary questions I need help answering:

(1)  What are the implications for the future of the youth pastorate when a lot of great ( and younger) youth pastors are leaving youth ministry to plant?

(2)  Why do youth pastors find church planting so attractive?

(3)  Do many of the ambitious, type -A, motivated, out of the box thinkers and doers, go-get-getters youth pastors eventually leave youth ministry for church planting?

(4) What in youth ministry/church needs to change in order to keep the church planter type youth pastors around longer?

(5)  How are church planters and youth ministers similar?

(6)  What are the general perceptions about the vocation of youth pastor?

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Jeremy Zach easily gets dissatisfied with status quo. He reeks with passion and boredom is not in his vocabulary. He becomes wide awake when connecting with student pastors, thinking and writing about student ministry, experimenting with online technology, and working out. He is married to Mikaela and has two calico cats, Stella and Laguna. He lives in Alpharetta, Georgia and is a XP3 Orange Specialist for Orange—a division of the REthink Group. Zach holds a Communication degree from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities and Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.