How to Guarantee Longevity in Youth Ministry

Youth ministry
What is the secret to longevity in youth ministry? (Lightstock)

Everybody likes guarantees, and in youth ministry there are few. But if you are hoping to stay involved in youth ministry in a local church setting for the long haul, I know the secret—the silver bullet—guaranteed:

Refuse to exit!

I've been traveling the local church youth ministry road for over 26 years, and there have been all sorts of times that I could have exited, "off-ramps" for which nobody would have argued if I would have taken them. But I refused to exit. And because I've simply refused to take an off ramp, I'm still on the road.

Some typical youth ministry off-ramps:

  • Graduating college and need a full-time role. Nobody would blame you for that.
  • Getting married and need to make more money. Nobody would blame you for that.
  • About to have first child and need a job with more regular hours.
  • Child No. 2 is on the way and my wife would like to work part-time.
  • Being burned by the church.
  • Feeling tired, on the edge of burnout.
  • Being successful and loved by the church so a "promotion" is offered.
  • Getting older and feeling a little out of touch.
  • Realizing how much money your friends in secular work make.
  • Failing, being fired or in someway becoming disqualified for a season.
  • The opportunity arises to teach, write or speak about YM full-time.

Why do men and women leave local church youth ministry? It's because they take an off ramp. There is nothing wrong with that.

Do you want to stay in youth ministry in a church setting for a long time? I can guarantee you a long youth ministry career in one simple step:

Refuse to exit!

Kurt Johnston leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4 percent of his time.

For the original article, visit

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!

FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.

Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.

The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.

Charisma Leader — Serving and empowering church leaders