STUDENTS NEED TO HEAR WHEN A YOUTH PASTOR LEAVES
This week the other student pastor that
I serve with at my church announced that God was moving his ministry to a
new church. We spent a
great deal of time together talking about when to announce it, how to
announce it, and what needs to be said. We wanted people to hear directly
from him in order to hear his story and understand his heart and not hear
it through the rumor mill. We also wanted the students and parents to hear
from me as the student pastor who would be walking with them through this
transition. As I prayed and brainstormed about what God wanted them to hear, a
few things rose to the top quickly. Here are the 5 things that I think
every student and adult needs to know as a youth pastor leaves.
1. We will miss them.
Donít sugar coat it and pretend like everything is all flowers and
rainbows. There will be some hurt and this is the natural mourning process
when someone close to you leaves. The most important thing when you talk
to students is to be honest.
2. Your youth
pastor is leaving, but God is not.
Donít dwell on the negatives too
much. Quickly transition into the fact that God is at work, not only in
the life of their youth pastor but in the student ministry as well, and
thatís good news! God is still around and has not given up on them.
3. We are
committed to you
They have to hear that the staff
and adult leaders are dedicated to them and to the ministry. Let them know
that the events and activities that they are used to are going to continue
and the ministry is not going to slow down. Hopefully you can honestly
tell them, like I did, that there will be a search team formed as soon as
possible to find a new youth pastor for them.
4. God has
great plans for you
This is a good time to give them
some hope from scripture like Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28. If God is
moving their youth pastor to a new place to minister that means that God
is already preparing and calling someone else to be their new youth pastor.
So start praying for that man!
This is also a good spot to share something exciting that is just down the
road in the youth ministry. (i.e. an event, camp, remodeling the youth
5. Run the race
well and donít look back!
Let them know that they will always
remember the ways that their youth pastor touched their lives and praise
God for him. Thank him for all that he has done and enjoy the time they
have with him before he moves to his new home. But then when heís gone, give them a
challengeÖ donít look back, keep moving forward, run the race well, keep
growing in Christ, inviting your friends to church, and reaching people with the gospel. This is Godís
desire for them and this doesnít change since it is God who is in control
of a youth ministry, not the youth pastor.
BONUS: Find a way to throw in
some humor to keep things from being such a downer. The way we did this
was to give them a "preview" of some of the great candidates that are out
there that could be the next youth pastor. We pulled a handful of creepy
and funny pictures of guys off of the internet and put them up on the
screen which got the students laughing. Even Pope Benedict made our list,
he's free now and comes with tons of ministry experience!