I have left 2 church youth ministry jobs all on great terms.

From my own experience and coming alongside many other youth pastors, I have learned a lot about how to leave a youth ministry job well.

The best book on how to exit, transition and leave a youth ministry job is:    

Moving On–Moving Forward:  A Guide For Pastors in Transition.

When leaving a youth ministry job, it’s important to have a plan.  Proverbs 16:9   In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Most youth pastors react and become highly emotional when leaving their youth ministry job.  They want to create the narrative with them looking like the superhero on to why they are leaving.  My goal is to prepare any youth pastor on how to leave well and still have a smile on their face.


The Plan For Your Youth Ministry Job Exit

Before announcing that you are leaving your current ministry position, it is imperative to understand why you must leave. The assumption is that God is leading and calling you into a new position.  BUT there are always a few other external variables that play a role into why you are leaving.

Top Reasons Youth Pastors Leave Their Youth Ministry Job:

➡️ Personal financial pressures 💰

It is a given a youth pastors salary is low.  However this isn’t excuse for your family to live off of ramen noodles.

The homeys at the Youth Cartel have a youth pastor salary report for 2019 which was prepared by Dan Navarra.  Dan found that the full-time youth pastor salary for 2018 is $46,581.  Not bad, huh?

1 Timothy 5:18 For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” I strongly believe that a youth worker should deserve a healthy wage.  Nothing extravagant but enough to make ends meet.  Churches are notorious for making their first financial cuts in the youth ministry department.  Fight for a good compensation package when hired.  Make sure you are being taken care of because a healthy compensation package determines the longevity of the church’s youth ministry department.

➡️  Difference in Church theology and leadership ❌

If you disagree with your church’s theology and leadership structure, it may be time to get out.  You will only run into problems later on.  All churches need to demand the respect and commitment from the youth pastor.  If there are theological differences that are getting in the way of how you view the church, it may be time to think about leaving.  It’s okay to change your belief on church leadership structure and change theological camps.

➡️  Preference for another kind of ministry 🎚️

You always have permission to go into another kind or type of ministry.  I think it is fine for youth workers to try out different styles of ministry contexts.  Also, if youth ministry is not going so well for you, it is okay to get out.  Youth ministry is not for everyone.  Plus some youth pastors may need a different style or size of church in order to really maximize your youth ministry gifts, passions, and call.

➡️ Need to care for family 👪

Caring for the needs of our family is our number #1 priority.  Our family is our number one disciple.  Our ministry to the people we love is our where our discipleship deposits need to go.

➡️ Not a fit in church and community culture  🔎

If you are not fitting into the current community culture, this may be a problem.  Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with you or your family.  Simply, the community is just different than who you are.  Every youth pastor at the end of the school year needs to ask the question:  Do I fit with the church and community student group?  I think it is completely okay if the youth pastor is having a difficult time belonging.  Fit, belonging, and contribution are key ingredients in making it at a church for the long haul.  It is some times hard seeing youth ministers have to be someone they are not in order to fit a church mold or culture.   Does the youth pastor have other caring, loving adult relationships around him? 


Read our second installment of how to leave your youth ministry job here.