Youthworkers in churches just need to toughen up and get on with it

They go on dont they?

Those whiny youth workers always complaining about how bad life treats them. The old saying that youth workers wouldnt actually change the lightbulb as theyd be too content to write papers about coping in the darkness is pretty accurate. Especially those in churches. Even those that say ‘how amazing’ youth ministry is are probably lying, or not employed by a church.

Its bad enough that we stand often on the side of the oppressed, like young people, who face many barriers in society, in agencies like schools, and dare i say it churches as well, this is bad enough – but most of the time to stand in the place of the oppressed and to challenge or critique those spaces is also make us vulnerable ourselves. Vulnerable because it challenges often those who might ‘feed’ them. But the sructures whom youthworkers work for and in agencies are causers of that oppression to, and this includes the way in which a youthworker is treated.

A few days ago i wrote a piece about the longevity of youthworkers placed in churches, its about 2-3 years. As ive reflected on it with a few people making comments, i have realised how wrong youthworkers are about how they view the situations they are in. After all:

Its not a church’s fault that they offer bad management to you as a youthworker, this is consistent, they offer bad management to everyone, the admins, the clergy, its not part of their make up to do this well in such organisations.

Its not a church’s fault that they dont understand what you do. Half the time you dont as a youthworker.

Its not a church’s fault that its young people dont like you, do what you say or listen – thats how they treat people in schools – Church is meant to be a fun distraction from real life..

Its not a church’s fault they can only give a few years funding and that the length of your contract, that is just the reality of the situation. Oher jobs after Uni promise only 3 years funding

Its not a church’s fault everyone, including parents want to tell you how to do your job – because they were doing it before you arrived.

Its not a church’s fault they see your role as a stepping stone for a vicar.

Its not a church’s fault that your amazing time on a gap year with a fun-loving trendy youth organisation cant be replicated there

Its not a churches fault that there isnt anyone there to help you with setting personal, social, time and physical boundaries for yourself. To them you’re their worker, but most of the time you wont have the rights that other workers have.

what might you do to deal with these kind of challenges?

What Youthworkers need to do it just toughen up and get over it!

Get tough, get resilient

Go on the same courses that they’re now having to teach young people!

develop coping strategies! 

you’re not in the role to be treated well, to be discipled, to flourish yourself- oh no! what did you expect? Church to help you in your long term ministry… oh dear..

Youthworkers just need to get real, get tough and stick it out. They themselves arent the problem no, the church itself is not the problem either. Everyone in every place of work has to deal with rubbish politics, poor management, funding, resources, complaints, and being a youth worker in a church (and maybe even a minister) is exactly the same.

Yes there might be moments of glory (but those are Gods-not yours), and the moments of despair and frustration are most definitely yours (not Gods, no definitely not Gods).

So stop moaning, complaining, getting all emotional, spiritual, compassionate and frustrated, stop caring about the young people and yourself, and your vocation, and just get on with it, toughen up, just do your job.

Your mental health is not important, neither is your future ministry or vocation, or what ‘pure youthwork’ is, or your capacity to care, or your integrity, or values, no! no! no! – these are all distractions and excuses , just get over it, get on with it, go and be the personality light, compassion light super games leading activity driven entertaining youth minister the church has paid you for, just toughen up and get on with it.

As youthworkers, we just need to toughen up, be more resilient, be ruthless.

*i am joking. 

What i am not joking about is that as youthworkers we do need to manage ourselves very well, set ourselves boundaries and create our own structures of management that work for us. And possibly have lower expectations of what churches are like to work for and what youth ministry in a rural or urban setting will be like with 4 young people.


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