Team-centered Burnout Prevention

March 21st, 2012

Breaking the cycle of short-term, paid youth ministers is an important element in reversing the decline of young people in church. Youth directors who stay for a few years are more effective; develop more trusting relationships with youth, parents, and congregations; and have the opportunity to develop lasting ministries.

Unfortunately, the average paid youth worker stays in their position only eleven to fourteen months. Many might be interested in staying longer, but leave because of low pay, poor benefits, and burnout.

A multilevel, team-centered solution might look like the following.

Network With Other Youth Ministers

Seek to link full-and part -time youth ministry staff with others in similar positions. Inexperienced youth ministers need to network with others.

Help develop training and mentoring programs for youth ministry professionals who have not attended seminary. Network with other youth ministry professionals in your area, through professional organizations in your denomination or a wider audiences online! Since the majority of youth ministers have little or no training in youth ministry, this is one of the most important elements in reducing turnover.

Pastors Who Supervise Staff Members

Help your youth ministry staff to set ministry goals and then take a genuine interest in their progress. Work with your staff supervisory committee to ensure that it provides fair, comprehensive policies to all staff members. Include youth ministers in major building decisions, visioning sessions, and other meetings with broad church impact. Provide sufficient continuing education money for ongoing training and conference attendance. Be a good role model. Set appropriate boundaries, take regular time off, and delegate tasks rather than trying to do it all yourself. 

How Other Ministry Leaders Can Support Youth Ministry

Remind the youth minister that much of their time should focus on building teams of youth leaders and learning to delegate tasks. You as a staff member should not add to their responsibilities unless you also help them give some up.

Be certain that your youth director schedules regular "sabbath"-blocks of time for renewing body, mind, and spirit. Youth ministers should not be afraid to seek assistance in maintaining a healthy life balance. Make sure they read books each year on: stress management, balancing home and work, organization skills, current youth ministry trends, or time management. If you've read something helpful share it with your youth minister and the entire church staff and leadership.

Since high-quality youth ministry is one of the most important reasons why people choose a church, we must work as partners with the shared goal of nurturing youth leaders who have staying power.

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