It’s getting hot and it finally feels like summer!
I got into my summer school class, yay more Ballet for the summer! I’m loving keeping in shape and my new found muscles! Always great! As hard as I try, the only way I exercise consistently is if I’m in a class.
We’ve been taking over the summer classes of Children’s Church for the month of July and it is fun! As much as I love doing youth ministry I miss children’s ministry. My first official paid job for the church was in children’s ministry so it feels good to be back for a few weeks. Our task for the month: The Lord’s Prayer. Our church is the traditional kind so our version comes complete with hallowed and debtors – not easy words for a kid to figure out! My Hubby has been in the room with me and I am loving it. After years of ministry alone it is wonderful to have someone in there with me. I love watching him learn something new and show him another part of my world.
My church is small, we average under 100 people in attendance every week and a handful of students. Our children’s Sunday school is all in one room and our youth group is middle school and high school combined. I think the number of people have probably been my biggest challenge here. I know this is a raw subject, a sensitive thing for a lot of people. I know that careers are made and broken on numbers. Numbers don’t tell a lot, they can’t tell you if your ministry is good or faith based or solid. They can’t tell you the spiritual state of the leadership or the students. They can tell you if you have good PR people, or if you are able to be entertaining and sometimes they can tell you if you have great music or something dynamic about the ministry. Really, it’s not a good way to judge success. BUT, it is most often associated with success.
I find myself struggling, discouraged and doubting when I look at my numbers. Our youth group is not consistent, we rarely have the same students 2 weeks in a row and most Sundays we have only 2 students. Ugh, even writing that out makes me feel like I’m failing. I know there are many reasons for this. The parents hold the same attendance record, the church doesn’t fit them well, they don’t actually know Jesus so they don’t have a desire to learn about Him. Among other things…
I’ve been at the church for 9 months and I am the first youth pastor in I don’t even know how much over 2 years it’s been. The students aren’t used to having a ministry for them, they don’t really know what a youth group can offer them and they don’t have a desire to be a part of a youth group. I get all that. But it is SO HARD not to think:
1. Isn’t it my fault, aren’t I supposed to be doing something to get them to come?
2. If I was doing a better job wouldn’t they come? Wouldn’t they want to come?
3. Is this really what I am supposed to be doing? Am I doing it right?
Those are the basics, they come in various forms and usually on a daily basis. My husband and pastors and parents are all great at combating these thoughts when I can’t do it myself but they’re still there.
I know there are others who feel this.
I’ve read the books.
I know that most youth pastors burn out within the first 5 years – mainly due to discouragement of some kind. I know this is a key way that satan works against us.
But still, my brain wins out sometimes. So, I’m sharing.
What do you do when you are discouraged in ministry?
Have numbers ever been an issue for you?