One of the things that always fascinates me as a Youth Pastor myself is how many “high earning” Youth Pastors there are out there. In 2018 we had exactly fifty responders out of over 2,200 who earned $75,000 or more. So far this year, we have had 43 responders out of 1,250 who hit the $75,000 threshold. But here is what is unbelievable to me…
I sent an email out recently to the top earners from 2018, asking them to make sure they took this year’s survey. Of the 50 that got that email, I had 10 bounce-backs from folks who are no longer employed by their high paying church. In fact, I’ve only had 20% of last year’s highest earners take this year’s survey so far.
I think one of the things this evidences is that some of these highly compensated YP’s are in extreme pressure cookers to “perform” and churches don’t have a lot of patience.
I reached out to one of these formerly highly compensated YP’s who I happen to know personally, and he offered some insights. He was at his last church for less than a year. He said,
“Everyone wants to have a really great youth ministry…and it doesn’t matter how good you are. When things don’t go as the church planned before they brought you in, you are the easiest scapegoat. We still believe that money can solve youth ministry problems because it solves adult problems…but there are a lot of Youth Pastors who are the ones who take the fall because adults want to have the results that come from throwing lots of money at a youth ministry in the form of a person. But we know it’s not that simple. YP’s are not slaves. they are employees.”
I guess the point of writing all of this is to let you who make less than my arbitrary $75,000 number who feel like your church has high expectations for you or who feel like you haven’t yet arrived because you’re maybe not earning the way you hoped you’d be earning at this point in your career: there is a lot of pressure out there to be great. But I believe the key to being great is lodged firmly in your ability to stick around for a long time in your ministry context. Developing leaders, growing an organic DNA, and doing the slow work of tending to students and their families relationally is what makes you great. It’s not your ability to draw a crowd, or come up with clever, or baptize a bunch of students