There is the old statistic that youth pastors don't stick around for longer than 18 months. I think that statistic is pretty much shot and not sure of the new one but I know it is much longer. Some youth pastors still don't stick around for very long at one church. Sometimes due to the church, some churches like to chew up and spit out their staff, often that's due to a very small (around 7) amount of disgruntled and power hungry members. Sometimes youth pastors don't stick around because they jumped in with both feet without first checking the water. Probably should have asked the question, "Is this church a fit for me and God's will for me?" I have heard some quit because of the finances, not getting paid enough, yet they knew the pay package before signing on. (I have heard of a few who took the job without even asking about the pay. Crazy! You have to know what it takes to support your family). Some churches go through youth pastors like a kid goes through candy in a Pez dispenser. Some youth pastors go through churches like a kids goes through candy in a Pez dispenser.
One youth pastor friend told me "I think my calling is to start youth ministry and then leave to start another one." Problem was he didn't stay long enough to build a healthy structure for the ministry to keep ticking along after he left. It's easy to get addicted to the honeymoon period.
It's hard as a youth pastor to follow a youth pastor who only stuck it out for a couple of years. Just about the time the students start to click and open up and build that relationship the bond is cut off.
How long should a youth pastor stay at a church? As long as God wants him to stay.
This weekend I get to watch another batch of seniors graduate. For some of them I have been there only youth pastor, some have even had the same youth ministry team members serving them their entire middle and high school career.
While I know that God does move us sometimes to where he wants us I'm not sure that it is God's will for us to move every 18 months, 2 years, 4 or even 5 years. I know it's different in each case but I think there is something to be said for consistency and familiarity. I'm not the best youth pastor, I still have much to learn in working with students and their parents. But I feel like sticking around and watching kids go through middle then high school and then watch them graduate is a great thing in youth ministry. They won't remember the Bible studies but will remember the relationships with their youth ministry team.
How long will I be at Nags Head Church? I hope and pray until I retire. How long will I be a youth pastor? As long as I'm effective and can lead. I hope I get to see next fall's batch of 6th graders walk across the platform on their graduation day from high school. I'll be 50!! That's stinking old.