How to Beat Your Youth Ministry Slump - Dare 2 Share
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

How to Beat Your Youth Ministry Slump

Even the best youth leaders sometimes feel like they’re failing. Here’s how to give that feeling the boot.

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In sports, a slump is an extended period of time when a player isn’t performing up to their usual level or expectations. As a youth leader, I’ve been through some serious slumps that led me to discouragement, disillusionment, and even depression. I kept hearing the enemy’s voice in my head, telling me I was too old or not gifted enough or not equipped—or whatever other “dart of the day” he decided to launch at me. I felt like I was failing in many areas of the ministry and often thought of quitting. 

It wasn’t that my ministry approach was bad. Even during those slumps, I was taking students to Dare 2 Share LIVE and Lead the Cause, strategically implementing all 7 Values, spending personal time with Jesus, and working really hard, but I still wasn’t seeing much fruit. Our numbers were down, and our apathy was up. To be honest, I’d been a Gospel Advancing leader for a while and was convinced I was the only one whose youth group wasn’t on fire for God and who wasn’t seeing dozens of teens regularly coming into a relationship with Jesus. What was wrong with me?

Reality Check

In retrospect, God was doing some great things. For example, during one slump, a few students were growing in their love for God’s Word, many leaders were faithfully serving, and my senior pastor was supporting me well. But the slump came after a strong adult leader left in an unhealthy way and a rebellious group of student “leaders” were causing a lot of drama. I was focusing way too much on those negatives and the fallout that happened in their wake.    

Here are a few things I wish someone had reminded me of in those days:

  • Youth leaders don’t control salvations or students. Sometimes the Holy Spirit does a mighty, visible work—and sometimes He doesn’t. Let Him teach you in both seasons. 

  • The fruit you see (or don’t see) in the moment doesn’t measure your calling. Jesus didn’t see much fruit during certain times of His ministry either. 

  • Students are navigating many things, and you often know only a small part of what’s going on in their lives. Love them, lead them, pray for them, and be patient with them.

  • The people who support you are often less vocal than the ones who challenge you.  Learn to listen the most closely to the voice of God.

  • Celebrate and be grateful for anything you can. Have one faithful leader? A decent budget? A couple of students who are trying to share their faith? CELEBRATE!

  • Double down on your time with God during the slump, even though you may not be “feeling it.”

  • Read Bible verses often that encourage and remind you of His truth, such as these:

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

 “…being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…” Colossians 1:11

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:5

“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.’” Mark 16:15

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

In other words, keep on keeping on. This slump, too, shall pass!

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