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It’s time for churches to stop abusing youth pastors

Mark Oestreicher is an old friend and a great thinker (that’s him in the box, but usually he’s thinking outside it – I thought the picture was nicely representative of the topic – “give me his head on a platter!”), now President of Youth Specialties. His blog touches on a tender subject. Yout…
By Seth Barnes

Mark Oestreicher is an old friend and a great thinker (that’s him in the box, but usually he’s thinking outside it – I thought the picture was nicely representative of the topic – “give me his head on a platter!”), now President of Youth Specialties.
His blog touches on a tender subject. Youth pastors, by and large, are employees of institutions known as churches. They are hired, sometimes fired, and too often, abused in the process.

The whole system stinks. Youth pastors should not be employees, they should be raised up organically from within the church and should be covenantal members of the body. The litany of abuse they experience in the current flawed model touches a raw nerve. Marko says:

“recently i had dinner with a youth worker couple who had the kind of story i
hear way too often these days. they’d been beat up, in one way or another, by
two or three churches in a row. the pastor had said they were doing a great job,
blah, blah, blah. though he did seem to have concerns about ministry style (they
were relational, he was organizational). in the end, they got totally blindsided
by the pastor or the board telling them they needed to leave. there was some
kind of agreement on what would be said publicly, which the church and pastor
(the way it was told to me) totally violated. lots of hurt. lots of pain. lots
of mess.

i hear these stories every week. literally. there are variations, of course.
some involve massive tension with a cold-hearted automaton of a senior pastor
over a period of years, resulting in the ministry version of parallel-play
(ministering alongside each other without any significant interaction with each
other). some involve a spineless yes-man of a senior pastor and an overbearing
board with some misguided ideas about what the youth ministry should be doing or
valuing. but the common thread is “abuse”. the stories rarely involve two valid points
of view.”

49 comments to that blog! Here’s the one I liked the best: “What I don’t understand is why so many senior pastors are so bad at discipling
and loving their staff? Even weirder is that most of them got their starts as
“us”. There are very few people in the church that haven’t worked with students
in some regard.”

The problem is not the senior pastor and it’s not the youth pastor – it’s the system! Or maybe I’m all wet…your thoughts?

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