college travels

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why do Youth Ministers have Big Egos?

I was in a meeting today, talking about youth ministry across Sydney and someone said, ‘I’ve worked with senior ministers in Sydney before and I thought they had big egos, but that’s nothing compared to what I’ve seen in youth ministry!

Are they right?

My first thought was that youth ministers have a lot more power than a senior minister over their own ministry. A senior minister is fairly limited in what they can change – they have to have a service, probably on Sunday, they have to have a sermon, songs, probably communion; they have to run a church council meeting, call their church what it’s been called in the past (St. Rahabs, Eastern Suburbs Evangelical Reformed Community church etc).

But a youth minister – well they can do what they like – they decide when to meet (Friday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night), they decide what to include in the program (games? Bible talk? Singing? A camp? Lunchtime group? Small groups?) and what to call it (Splash, Funky, Youth Group, Spew?). Add to this that youth ministers are often working with a team of leaders who are younger than them, and a ‘congregation’ who are all younger than them, and we end up enjoying being at the top of our own little empire.

So, is that why we have big egos?

Is that why we’re not that good at working cooperatively together?

Is that going to be a problem in the way we do our ministry and what we’re modelling to others.


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  • Hmmm indeed.
    I think the biggest ego boost is having 30 or so teenage kids (the fashion-setting generation) idolizing you as a minor deity.

    Plus, of course, most youth ministers are quite young themselves, and 20-somethings are not famous for having vast amounts of humility (I speak as an 30-something who is personally famous for not having any humility at all)

    Once we are respected, and indeed revered, by our small congregation/cult, our struggle is to say "follow my example as I follow Christ" or, more accurately, "follow my example ONLY IN AS MUCH AS I follow Christ."

    Not that I'm saying anything new. However, I'm thinking about the youth ministry method books that I have read over my time, and I can't remember any of them focusing on the vital role of humility in ministry.

    By Blogger Mike S, at 9:27 am  

  • I think that what you have said Graham and Mike is definitely the case. I’ve been thinking over the last little while how its common to hear that Youth ministers are confronted with the idea that youth ministry is a stepping stone to 'real' or adult ministry. The feeling that people view you in that light + maybe not having as much training as the assistant or snr ministers around you leaves the poor ol' youth minister with the feeling that he needs to promote himself and the viability of his work all the little bit more.

    Add the minions looking up to him/her and the exciting ministry he/she has shaped and you have what looks like a pretty egocentric youth minister.

    By Blogger Dan Arthur, at 8:29 pm  

  • I think it is a problem, and certainly the power they have is no doubt linked to that somewhat. I also think that a lot of us struggle to show respect to the past and simply want to push forward with our own agendas. I suspect that 20 years later, we'll finally learn that you can't create the perfect church community and that change is a slow process and needs a lot of love and humility to do it well.

    By Blogger Luke, at 3:30 pm  

  • I feel the same way often it can be a temptation to build 'our own kingdom' rather than Kingdom work. We have so much freedom in Youth Ministry its important to have mentors, prayer warriors & even older leaders on team that can not just support your ministry but also ask the hard questions when it comes to the crunch. We have a great responsibility in serving these young people & our leaders. ultimately remembering that we are accountable not just to church leadership but to Christ.

    By Blogger Stevo, at 8:11 pm  

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