Transition in Youth Ministry: Part 1

Question Everything

You will leave the youth ministry you currently lead. It might be next year or in 10 years, but you will leave. The ministry will be cast into transition. But the question is: Will your transition in youth ministry be healthy?

Transition in Youth Ministry 1

Since January, my wife and I have been praying through God’s will for our life and ministry. Long story short, God is moving our family and ministry to Round Rock, Tx where I will serve as the lead Student Pastor at The Fellowship Church.

This decision to move did not come easy. We spent many nights praying, laughing, and weeping desiring to know what God wanted from us. We didn’t see this offer coming, so we wanted to make sure we heard from Him and didn’t just pursue the new shiny offer.

In your ministry, odds are you will be here also. At some point you will leave the youth ministry you are currently leading.

So let’s examine how we can transition youth ministry faithfully.

Transition in Youth Ministry

Step One: Question Everything

One of the hardest things is to discern and understand is the will of God. Maybe you are more holy than I, and God speaks to you in an audible voice or via email, but not me. I have to petition Him when it comes to the big things. When it comes time for me to get that “one, most important, course-of-your-life-altering choices, right,” I have to seek Him earnestly.

This is how I questions everything:

  1. Bible – What is God speaking to me through scripture? This is God’s primary means of communication to us, and His will will never contradict Scripture. Psalm 119:105 offers, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
  2. Prayer – What is God speaking to me through prayer? Am I telling Him what I want or am I listening for His will? Pray that He would bend your will to His. In Luke 11:9-10 Jesus states, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
  3. Wise Counsel – What are the people you trust most saying about this opportunity or decision? Proverbs 19:20-21 offers, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
  4. Holy Spirit – Where is the Holy Spirit stirring you? What keeps you awake? Where do you feel He is moving through? Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
  5. Opportunity – What doors has God opened and closed? Why should you even consider this option? Kevin DeYoung in Just Do Something states,

    “Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you’ll be walking in the will of God.”

 You will leave your youth ministry. Will it be by His doing or yours? How do you go about hearing from God? Comment below!

Need a full transition strategy? Here ya go…

Part Two: Leave Faithfully
Part Three: Entering a Youth Ministry
Part Four: Communication Strategy

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.


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9 thoughts on “Transition in Youth Ministry: Part 1

  1. We just transitioned from one state to another after being in our previous church for almost 6 years. I started sensing God was going to move us a year prior. In our search we followed all the steps you mentioned above. The one thing I would add is if someone is married to really listen to what they are sensing from God. I say that because I would have missed a great opportunity if I had not listened to my wife. I wasn’t feeling a peace about coming to our current church,s o I was going to reject the offer, but as we drove the 11 hours back my wife opened my eyes to the things that God had shown both of us, but that I had not considered. I ended up taking the job and have now been here 6 months and it has been great and God has blessed us here. I know you could put this in the place of asking others, but you and your spouse are one, and they know you and can help separate fear from faith and etc.

    On a side not. I’m not sure of everything your going to discuss, but I think a huge part of transition that no one really talks about is how to let go of the past ministry and embarrass the new one. And how to do that in a life giving way. That has been the hardest thing for me in this transition.

    • Tony, 1. Thanks for sharing your wisdom! I agree that consulting your spouse is a HUGE part of transition in youth ministry. They know how to temper our excitement with reality as well as point out things we could be missing.

      2. I think letting go is difficult! We have invested SO MUCH into the ministries we have led, and letting go must be something intentionally done. I’ll definitely have to mention that in one of the future posts. Great stuff Tony!

  2. Great thoughts. I’m currently looking to move to TX after being in your ministry in CA for the last 12 years. Important to make sure it’s His desire and just not yours. It definitely takes a huge leap of faith.

    • Eric, so true. After hearing from Him, we must trust Him. Trusting takes faith. Praying for your transition!

  3. I came on staff with my current church and 4 months in the two co-directors who were the ones who called me for the position and who had been there for 7 years, left. I wasn’t upset with them, although it definitely caught me off guard. But it was not a smooth transition. It was painful on all fronts. One thing I would suggest considering as you leave is setting up the staff that is staying and staff who will be hired for success. Don’t try to maintain the same closeness with students. It will hinder them from learning to trust the staff who is actually around.