The New Rage In Churches? Firing Youth Pastors?

I read a lot of blogs – a lot of youth pastor and pastor blogs. And I’m noticing something going around right now that is a bit disturbing. There seems to be a rash of youth pastors getting fired – and not for immoral reasons. For the “better for the future of the church and the individual” reasons. Doug Fields has even written about it this past week.

I’m a lead pastor now but was a youth pastor for 18 years. I cringe when I look back on my first 7 years. That’s right – 7 years. I made a lot of mistakes as well as avoided a lot of mistakes but one thing I always had were bosses who were more concerned about development than just results.

Don’t get me wrong, my bosses wanted to see the group grow but they were equally concerned about what the students were turning into, into what I was changing into. All of my bosses all at one time or another probably FELT like firing me about something. Overflowing the baptism, putting students in charge of life groups, going over budget, losing a deposit at a camp for damages, wrecking a rental car on a mission trip? Would any of those gotten most other youth pastors fired? Apparently so.

But what about challenging the congregation with the idea to empower students to lead, not just listen? What about handing the keys to high school and middle school life groups over to students? What about partnering with other churches? Or being a place where Hispanics, Blacks, and Whites could worship?

Our staff is walking through Andy Stanley’s Next Generation Leader. Andy tells the story of a guy that makes a 10 million dollar mistake at IBM. When Tom Watson, Sr. learned of this he called the guy into his office. He immediately tendered his resignation. Watson’s reply was classic. “You can’t be serious. We just spent 10 million dollars educating you.”

I understand that some mistakes in the church will cost a person their job. But those mistakes can be listed on one hand. Most mistakes are redeemable. And if a church is ever going to develop disciples into leaders, they might want to learn how to redemptively learn from them instead of just asking for the keys to the building. Developing people is messy and risky…but that just may be the core of the problem.

I’m not sure how many churches hire with the mindset of development. I’m guessing that most focus on results. I don’t have a problem with expecting some results out of the staff, I just hope there is just as much emphasis on developing them.

So that’s been my advice for the few people that I’ve talked too that are recovering from firing…or looking for a new place of ministry. Find a place that will develop you as much as demand from you.


7 thoughts on “The New Rage In Churches? Firing Youth Pastors?

  1. Wow, it must be a day for comments. There is a recent trend in churches to either not have a youth pastor, have a half-time one or just keep a steady transition of them coming through the doors. It has been similar in the past, but I hear about it more and more. I also hear Sr. Pastors being very unapologetic about it. Their budgets just can’t support staff like they used to. I don’t know that I hold the economy responsible, but I do see more churches tightening the belt these days.

    I’m glad you are not one of those guys.


    1. Well…I am and I’m not one of those guys.

      While the economy has affected us, the larger desire is to grow our own staff if at all possible. So at this time we have part-time staff choosing developmental over “hired gun” mentality.

      I still want our team to be challengers of the process…pushers of the envelope in terms of disciple making — not calendar filling.


  2. Grant you have mature a deal over the last few years. Keep up reaching out and working with the youth. Youth of today need more mentors like you and Danny Payne. God Bless.


  3. Great Article! Very encouraging…today it has almost been a year since a church we were at for fired my husband because they wanted to ‘go in a different direction’. Too many outside students attending the group–was the unoffical reason. He had been there for three years without even as much as a review. It took us a year to recover and we are now thriving in a place that is pouring into us, as we pour back into them. I am glad to see people writing about this, even last year there weren’t as many articles to read–when it happens to you–you need all the encouragement you can get.


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