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Regular Columns

The long haul

I flew 25 hours long haul from Auckland to London recently. My legs were in a permanent knot — not pretty. But the long haul is a phrase that has come to be used about the desired length of service of youth ministers which appears to be too short to really build a ministry. We want people to stay longer.

Youth Leaders Dave Fenton

Does the fact that the average tenure of a paid youth minister is under two years matter? What is our expectation of those who commit their lives to serving God in a salaried role? Is it merely a staging post for those who will eventually move on to ‘real’ ministry? Should we essentially see it as a part of a pathway to ordained or even secular ministry? As I heard one senior minister say, ‘Do a bit with the kids — it’s a good preparation for church leadership’. The long-term consequence of that thinking is that all young people will be led by those who are immature, inexperienced or both. Of course we need some leaders who are younger, but do we really want to commit the spiritual development of our young people entirely to such people?