Youth Ministry is a Calling of Extremes

Not long ago, we were chatting it up with a couple of students who had expressed interest in being youth pastors. Our conversation ran through various aspects of youth work when it hit us: youth ministry is a calling of extremes. If you’re new to the gig, you might not feel it just yet – but ask anyone who has been doing it for a while and they’ll tell you it is true.

Extreme schedule
In youth ministry there is no such thing as a typical week. Quite often every day is completely different from the last. This summer alone I (Kurt) ran from event to mission trip to vacation to camp to … I don’t even remember what came next because the schedule was so extreme. It was even busier for Josh…in addition to all the youth ministry stuff, he had to schedule time play video games, watch Star Wars and snack on pretzels.

Extreme emotion
Youth ministry lives on both ends of the emotional continuum. I’ve (Josh) been sitting with students laughing my head off about something one minute, and get a phone call about one of my students being in a terrible car accident the next.  Youth workers are there when things are extremely good and when things are extremely bad.

Extreme salary
Youth ministry pays extreme. Extremely little.

Extremely critical age
Youth ministry is focused on what may be the most critical age group in our churches – when students are figuring themselves and their faith out and parents are at the most challenging point in relating to them. We ask these students to give over total control of their life to Jesus . We invite students to be baptized, to demonstrate their faith to their friends, family and the world at the time when peer-pressure and image are the most crucial in their life. That’s some extreme stuff!

Extreme expectations
There’s a lot of pressure on youth workers – from senior pastors, staff, parents and largely from the person who is the hardest on you: yourself.

Extreme hours, extreme emotions, extreme work. Youth ministry pushes everything to the limit. So why in the world would anyone want to do it? Seems like a nice, safe, well-paying nine-to-five job in an air conditioned office is more what most people look for in life, not this.

Why? Because of the extreme fulfillment. We wouldn’t want to do anything else. You?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

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Josh Griffin
Josh Griffin is high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co-counder of 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!

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