A few weeks ago, I read an old article on reyouthpastor.com, or whatever its called now, by Jeremy Zach in which he described several ways youth pastors can get burned out from ministry. One of the ways that particularly struck home with me was sold out– give up on “the church” and lean to liberal theology to solve all of their problems.
I think part of the reason this has stuck with me these last few weeks is because it seems to be a pretty popular theme among youth pastors around the blogosphere, and among some that I network with. It seems that more often these days, youth pastors burn out and give up on the church, but dont leave.
Recently, a fellow youth worker who worked in my area really began leaning away from the belief’s and theology his church held, so much so to the point that his church fired him. The sad part is is that he made up some completely unrelated excuse to give to his students, and has encouraged them to leave their church to attend his “bible study”. Without taking away from another post, it boils down to the fact that what he has communicated to me and others who knew him is that the church is not doing its job right, but he knows how to make it better and will do it without the church.
Leaning towards some of the more christian liberal theologies in a season can be very beneficial, and can lead to growth. I think we should all evaluate our ministries/churches with some of the more liberal ideas on occasion. But to give up on church as a whole is a completely different beast. If theres one thing that the Bible makes clear about the church, it is that it is the Bride of Christ. To give up on the bride of Christ is to give up on Christ; I cant still be friends with a guy if I hate his wife.
Its one thing to give up on certain ways of doing church, and another to give up on church to build your own kingdom, which is what I feel a lot of these sold out youth pastors are doing.
It has given me personally a lot of encouragement the last few weeks thinking about selling out from the church, because Honestly I was ready to give up on my current position. But this local church is no different than the next one.
So pastors leaning away from the Bride, take a few weeks to first consider why you are doing so.
Are you leaving the church because you cant stand the church politics or because the church is holding you back from the things you want to do? Pray. Church politics plague every local assembly, and as Mark Devries talks about in “Sustainable Youth Ministry”, they arent always a bad thing. Further, maybe you do have the right ideas/answers. Are you not going to fight to share them? Will you not invest your life into an area God has called you to be because you think you were called there for one purpose, when God clearly has you there for another reason?
What it boils down to is the investment. Are you willing to make sacrifices to see a church become healthier, or will you run at the first few signs of resistance.
In the words of cheesy Youth Pastors from the 90’s, what would Jesus do?