There is a reason that the turn over in youth pastors in the average church is higher than that of other ministries. For every pastor it’s a different story. Maybe it’s meeting the high demands of parents. Maybe it’s the constant back and forth between the requirements of eldership and financial boards. Or perhaps it’s the fact that youth ministry is a thankless job in which teenagers secretly appreciate and love you, but would never tell you to your face. Or maybe it just seems like no matter how hard you try, no one shows up to your events and youth service is lacking participation.

No matter what it is for you, it is no doubt that if you are any sort of youth ministry veteran, you have had no shortage of discouragement in youth ministry. And if you are starting out, be prepared for it. See the simple truth is this: we go through ups and downs in our emotions for youth ministry much like our teens get hyped up on the “spiritual rollercoaster.”

We all love seeing kids changed at retreats, youth summer camp, and midweek services. When your next moment (or current moment) of discouragement arrives with force, start to contemplate on the best parts about youth ministry. Think about why you do it every day.  Perhaps you can think back to a time when you yourself were in youth as a teen and were ministered to by a caring youth pastor or leader. Now you get to pay that forward and touch the lives of many more teens. Remember that most discouragement has an emotional root. Actions based on emotions are never a good idea.

If thinking about it isn’t enough, try surrounding yourself with fellow youth pastors that can help lift you up in frustrating times. Give all the local youth pastors a call and try holding a monthly lunch at a nearby restaurant where you can find ministers of a like mind. Offer plenty of time for discussion amongst yourselves and for prayer for those who are losing passion.

If you have tried positive thinking and you have some fellow youth pastors praying for you and it still doesn’t seem like enough, take a break.  No, I don’t mean quit your job or take a sabbatical. I’m talking about a mini vacay. Get your butt to a youth conference quick. Sell your senior pastor on the idea and get the church to pay for it. Take time to be ministered to and to recharge your batteries. I know the whole “been to one youth conference, been to them all” phrase may seem true, but I guarantee if you open your heart and mind, God will get you jacked up on youth ministry all over again. When the conference is over, take a couple of days with your wife to just enjoy yourself.

No matter what you have to do, remember that quitting is a last resort. There are hurting kids that need you whether they tell you that or not. Prayerfully seek God for an answer before throwing in the towel. He will give you direction and honor your heart.

Do you have a low budget ministry? Looking for a way to spice things up without breaking the bank? Check out our previous article on Low Budget Youth Ministry Ideas.

You may also like our recommended resources list – many are free and all are guaranteed to make your life a little easier.