The first thought you might have when we consider the topic of how to end well in youth ministry might be, “But I’m not going anywhere!” That may be true, but one day you will. The truth is we’re all going to be ending and leaving a ministry of some sort someday. So, I think it’s important to consider the subject of how to end well.
The first step in doing that is to prepare now. When I started my position here at the State Board of Missions, I had no intentions of leaving the position I was in. It was as if I looked up one day and God told me to move and I thought, “Oh, am I prepared?” Thankfully, I had people pouring into my life, teaching me to prepare well three-and-a-half years earlier. I was building a team that I could hand the ministry to. I encourage you to start building a team around you in your ministry now, people you can hand your ministry to if God were to call you to somewhere else. Consider this: Much of your true ministry is going to happen after you leave, not necessarily while you’re there because people will begin to see the legacy that you left. They’ll see the ministry you’ve built.
Part of preparing now is to think about a transition plan.
What would that look like? Do you leave one person in charge? Do you have a team of adults who can take on different aspects of your ministry? In an earlier Uplink Online session, we talked about budgeting and calendaring. Having an up-to-date calendar during that transition time will be important so the team will know what’s coming. They’ll know what is on the calendar, what’s scheduled and what they need to plan for.
Part of the transition plan is preparing for the interim. Whoever you’re going to get, whoever is going to take over the authority and the responsibility of the youth ministry, you need to be able to hand over all the planning you’ve done to them. They need to take and it and say, “I know what he was going to do. I’ve got all the forms. I’ve got all the paperwork.”
But remember also you’re ultimately setting up for the next youth pastor. You want the next youth pastor to succeed. You don’t want him to stay where you were, but you want him to take your ministry to the next level. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our own world and our own kingdom and to think, “If the ministry falls apart after I leave, I was the man or I was the woman,” but the truth is you show how effective you were in ministry if the youth are drawing closer to the Lord and the ministry is growing spiritually and physically after you’re gone. You want someone to come in and be set up for success because you built a foundation for them to build on. So, I encourage you to plan to prepare now.
The second thing to remember in ending well in your ministry is to work until you’re done. Work until the last day. Pour out your life and give everything you’ve got to that ministry until your time is done there. Don’t take your last two weeks of vacation. Serve the Lord in that church because you want to end well. You want people to know that you worked until you were done, that you served the church, that you served the body of Christ until God transitioned you.
The last step is when you end a ministry when you transition somewhere else is to leave. Go to something else. Don’t keep looking behind you wishing that you were still there. Don’t come to your teenagers and still be connecting with them and letting them call you and text you. There’s someone else that they need to be relating to. You need to help them transition. If you’re ending well you’re helping the students transition to the next youth pastor there, because they can never serve and minister to the teenagers effectively if they’re still clinging to you.
I want to encourage you in order to end well you must prepare now.
If you’re going to end well you must work until you’re done. If you’re going to end well you need to leave. This way, you’re building a path and you’re grooming this youth ministry for what God has in store for them.
Now I’m not telling you to go look for a way to get out of where you’re serving now. What I am telling you is when God transitions you, when God moves you, you need to be prepared to do it well.