Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Help, My Youth Worker is Hurting!!

Chances are you have come across a youth worker that has been hurt in ministry. (Not hurt your ministry or done something stupid - though there are plenty of those) I'm talking about ones that struggle everyday in the trenches or are let go. That is why I write some of the things I do to help. Example: Handling a Forced Exit
and the whole thing about churches abusing youth workers
post that Marko wrote.

I think there is a week that doesn't go by that I don't hear about some youth worker let go, hurt by the church etc.

Here are some Suggestions to help the Youth Worker that is hurting:

I. Recognize it isn't the church that is hurting this person. It is individuals. The Church as a whole doesn't abuse youth workers. Individuals and congregations have. I had to learn this the hard way. It is to be I talked bad about the church; not recognizing that I was hurting the Bride of Christ. The Church that Jesus gave his life up for.

II. Give a listening ear to that youth worker. Chances are that there will be a need to rant, rave, and to get over the pain they have experienced. Referring to Counseling - especially Professional Christian Counsellors is best.

III. Pray for them. I mean really pray. Pray with them. Don't just say I'll be praying for you. Pray. Add them to your prayer list. Make time to maybe call and pray with them over the phone or in person. Let them know you don't have the answers but know the Lord who does.

IV. Encourage them. Send notes of encouragement.

V. Equip them. Equip them with tools and resources that would help them with the conflict they are going through. Maybe send them to a Youth Worker Convention to Refresh, relax, and Rest in the Lord. Below is a list of resources I've come across that helped encourage me. (at the end of the Article)

VI. Support them. Unlike other jobs - youth workers are at best not paid the best and don't get the benefits of unemployment.  If one is let go with a severance - (Most is 30-60days - that is all they have until they find that next position - but usually that takes up to a year because Search committees are usually made up of volunteers)

VII. Reach out to other youthworkers. Help them network. Know that they are not in this alone, in the trenches. Build community. A lot of youth worker's families are hurting too. Reach out to the spouse, children so they can overcome and not be bitter about the church but keep loving Jesus.

VIII. Educate. I think the more Lead Ministers, church leaders know about this "abuse" - the more it will stop. I think it is one the Christian Community as a whole doesn't talk about. We're quiet about the abuse of leaders - ministers, youth ministers that goes on. We need to repent and help others repent and be the church God wants us to be.

IX. Invest in them. Have them take a regular day off. Go to maybe a Retreat Center etc.

X. Know the role you play. For years I've wanted a change this trend - almost overnite. I now know it isn't going to happen overnight. I was in Chicago with a Group called E3. Then in Atlanta. Even was working with the forums on Youth Specialties to be an encourager. The best thing is to bloom where God has you and to help others over come the obstacles in the way.

Doug Fields' Article on Alot of youth workers are hurting
Resource List:

Church That Abuse - Ronald Enroth
Confessions of a Youth Pastor - "Doc" Hilliard (anonymous)
Escape from Church inc. - E. Glenn Wagner
Inside the Mind of Youth Pastors - Mark Riddle
Ministry Mutiny - Greg Stier
Ministry Staff Member - Douglas Fagerstrom
Pastors in Pain - How to Grow in Times of Conflict - Gary Preston.
Things They Never Taught You in Seminary - Deborah and James Bushfield.
What Matters Most - Doug Fields
The Wounded Minister - Guy Greenfield
Youth Ministry 3.0 - Mark Oestreicher
The Youth Worker Book of Hope. True Stories of Brokenness and Healing. - Tim Baker Editor

1 comment:

Eric said...

Thank you for the blog. I've been carrying around the resentment of a forced exit as a youth pastor for the last 4 months. I am still not sure if I will be returning to ministry, but your article is a must read for senior pastors and board members.

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