How Quitting Saved My Ministry

Want to revolutionize the way you do ministry? Quit your job!

As of last April, I began having discussions with my Senior Pastor about attending seminary in the fall of 2012.  That gave me over an entire year to do my best to prepare the leadership teams in my youth ministry for the upcoming transition.  Over the past year, I’ve come to realize one unanticipated truth…I am more intentional when I know I’m leaving.

I’m embarrassed to say that setting a termination date has revolutionized the way I do ministry.  At the same time it has added new vitality to my sense of call and mission.  Don’t worry…I’m just as perplexed as you are.  Quitting your job is obviously not the answer (always).  I’ve been at my current church over five years and have been struggling with a call to further education for a while.  Now my family and I feel like it is the right time to take this next step.

Below are some things that I’ve noticed about my ministry since I set a date for the end of my employment.

My week is more focused on pastoral care.  

Partly because of my departure and partly because of talks I’ve had with trusted mentors, I’ve begun to spend more time during my week outside of my office.  I went from spending roughly 4-5 hours of face time with my students and their families to now spending anywhere from 10-12 hours a week in direct contact with youth and their families.  Not to mention, it feels good to escape from my cinder block prison (AKA my office) every once and a while.

My ministry is more focused on discipleship.

Because of my impending departure, I have been focusing more on the discipleship of the students already in my ministry.  That’s not to say that we do not outreach anymore, but rather that the goal of everything we do is to move students deeper into discipleship.  “Well, isn’t that the point of youth ministry, Todd?”  Maybe so, but it took the reality of my departure to add urgency to my desire to see the faith “stick” with my students.

My leadership is more focused on training.

The fact is, after July 1, I will no longer be at my current church and there is a possibility that there will not be a new youth minister hired yet.  That means that our leadership team will bear the brunt of the responsibility for our youth ministry’s continued activity.  Because of this, a lot of my time has been spent training adults, empowering youth, and casting vision.  This process is not without it’s bumps but, in a weird way, it has been very motivating and empowering for our leadership teams to know that they have real stock in the ministry’s progress.

Things to consider:

What would you do differently if you learned you only had 12 months left in your current ministry?

What if it was only 6 months?  Only 6 weeks to make the most difference possible?

What is the most important way you could spend your ministry time?

 

 

About Todd Lovell

Todd is a certified youth worker in the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Springdale, AR. He is passionate about using the practices of Christian worship for the formation of young people and the strengthening of families. You can follow him on twitter @faithhopelovell or on his personal website, www.amethodistinmotion.com.