Yesterday evening I was at a soccer game and football practice and I started thinking . . .
How flexible is your church with you? It seems when I talk to other youth ministers who serve full time, and crazily enough even part time, that their church expects the youth minister to be incredibly flexible with his time but it doesn't always seem to work both ways. Some have shared with me how they are expected to put in 40 hours in the office on top of events, attending games, Sunday worship as well as a mid-week youth service. If you add up the hours that's probably close to a 70 hour work week.
Churches who expect their youth pastor to put in those kind of hours are asking for a burnt out, ready to quit, willing to move on, type of guy. Churches who expect this of their youth pastor are, knowingly or unknowingly, hurting his family. If his family and marriage isn't healthy there is no way he can be an effective minister.
Thankfully NHC has priorities not focused on "office hours" but on ministry. Our church loves to serve and minister. From my experience here I will share a good approach to a youth pastor's work-week schedule:
- 4 office days a week when possible
- flexible hours with consideration of time out to games, events, activities (yesterday I knew I wouldn't get home till close to 8pm so I came in to work later in the day)
- at least one day off a week (and someone needs to hold staff accountable to take their day off. I'm not a work-a-holic so I usually don't have a problem taking my day off and most weeks two days. I know my limitations and "stress" points)
- minimum two weeks vacation from the get go and if a youth pastor is moving in from another church vacation time should move with him, he may be changing locations but is still working for the same God. I can tell when it is time for vacation because I start to get a little mean and cranky.
- Comp time after big youth events like summer camp, mission trips, retreats, etc., anything that pulls a YP from his family. (after camp I usually work Sunday and one to two office days the following week)
- Sabbaticals with pay. At NHC staff can either take 5 weeks after each 5 years or 7 weeks after each 7 years. This could be the secret to keeping church staff longer than a couple of years. Rick has been here like forever.
Keep in mind that if you are a "part time" YP you can easily use up those hours on Sunday and Wednesday. That's why it is always good to clarify expectations before coming on staff at a church.
So if you are the overworked youth pastor feel free to forward the link to this post to your senior pastor, personnel committee, or "accidentally e-mail it to the entire church ;).