Friday, June 29, 2007

Authority and Youth Ministry

Have you ever been told to do something you didn't want to do? How about something you didn't believe would work? I sat down with a friend recently who has been asked not only to do something they didn't want to, but something they had significant doubts about. In youth ministry this happens often. How should we respond to this kind of request?

There is not one right response or one set of rules that will help you determine how to work your way through this kind of situation. The advice I gave my friend was specific to that situation and would likely not help you. Instead of offering some kind of broad advice I would like to ask some questions that might help you when you face this kind of a situation yourself. I hope these questions will help you work through the difficulty you face.

  • If you were to do what you are being asked would you have a clear conscience? Is it morally acceptable to God? I would hope the answer to this question would always be yes, but perhaps it is too much to assume.
  • Has the program or action been thought through well?
  • Does this fit with the mission and values of the church?
  • Is this something you knew you would have to do when you signed on?
  • Is there a way to change the program or action so that it would work better for all involved?
  • Most importantly have you been honest and respectful in communicating your opposition?
  • Is it worth losing your job over?


  1. Can you give an example and how you handled it?

  2. Sure.

    Let's say you were asked to add a program because it was convenient to parents, but it did not fit with the mission and values of the church or the mission and values of the student ministries. This happened to me. In then end I did the program and I did it well. The question then is why?

    First, because I wanted to show respect to my Senior Pastor who asked me to do this. I did make sure that he knew I did not think this was the best idea.

    Second, I considered the level of difficulty in adding this program. For me it was not difficult because I had staff that wanted to participate. They did not know I was not in favor of doing this and that was intentional. My direct participation was minimal (it probably cost me one hour out of the week on average).

    Third, I was still able to continue the othe programs which, in my opinion, were much more valuable.

    Fourth, this was certainly not worth loosing my job over or creating any kind of ill will toward myself from the parents or the staff.

    Basically when you are asked to do something you don't believe in, you need to consider the consequences. Sometimes it is appropriate to fight harder and to create ill will toward yourself. This is most often a judgement call.