Sensationalism and Agendas

Ever thought something was not right but you never took the time to prove it?

No doubt you have heard or perhaps even believed and quoted two major youth ministry myths:

Myth #1 – Youth ministers only stay at a church 18 months or less.
Myth #2 – 90% of youth are abandoning their faith after high school.

The fact is, both of these often repeated statistics are simply myths. Several youth ministry experts such as Dr. Wesley Black at South Western Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Ken Kageler of NYACK College and Seminary, Dr. Gary Bredfeldt of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dr. Timothy Paul Jones of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary have documented the false data often repeated by so called “experts”. The research behind much of raw data correcting and revealing such false negatives comes from an in-depth research project by Brandon Shields, PhD under the supervision of SBTS professors. So what are the facts? Lets look at an average youth minister in the US. A combination of surveys from approximately 3000 youth ministers reveals the following profile.

33 years old
Remains in a church position 3.9 years.
75% are married
76% are male.
94% have a 2 year college or university degree
49% of those with college degrees are ministry related majors and
42% of those with degrees are in a youth ministry emphasis or major.
62% serve in suburban ministry settings
The majority are Baptist (20%)
38% receive no health insurance benefit;
47% receive no continuing education, auto or travel allowance
43% receive no housing allowance
64% receive no social security contributions
50% receive no budget for professional supplies, resources, or books.
72% percent struggle with feelings of being inadequate or ineffective in ministry.
64% who begin ministry under age 25 with no mentor will leave the ministry in less than 4 years
78.4 % left youth ministry by age thirty-nine
22% left during their twenties
16% left the ministry in less than two years
3.1 years average at a single position
89% said they had considered leaving the ministry
57% said they would leave immediately if they had a better place to go, including secular work.

While the above data is not a glowing testimony of tenure, it does dispel much of the myth regarding 18 months.