Disclaimer: I have been involved in youth ministry in some fashion for almost ten years now, so the statements below are based on observations I have made during that time. That being said, I am in no way claiming to be an expert on youth ministry, and I am certainly not suggesting that I am a perfect (or even particularly good) youth minister. Below are a collection of humble opinions and suggestions based on personal experience. See Parts 1 and 2 of this series here and here.
In this last criticism, I am not referring to the idea held by some people that having a youth minister is inherently liberal,3 but rather the notion that youth ministers individually tend to be more liberal than the congregations that employ them, and thus, cause problems at those congregations.
Like I said above, this is a common criticism, and I’m sure it’s valid to a degree, but I think it tends to exaggerated a lot. Let me explain.
It makes a lot of sense for youth ministers to be a somewhat liberal group as a whole when you remember that, as a general rule, youth ministers tend to be young, and they also tend to be only a few years removed from an education at a Christian university (typically, people are more liberal when they are younger, and usually Christian universities are somewhat more liberal than are a lot of the congregations whose young people choose to attend them).
Nevertheless, if a congregation has done a good job in the interview process to find a youth minister that is a good fit for them, then really it shouldn’t be an issue—more liberal churches will have no problem accepting youth ministers with more liberal views, while more conservative congregations will avoid those candidates and instead hire someone whose views are more in line with their own.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if there is4 a huge problem of youth ministers being too liberal for the churches they work with, at least part of the blame should fall on the congregations who hired them in the first place when they obviously weren’t a very good fit.
The next (and hopefully last) post will close out the series with a few summary observations.
2I won’t put the terms in quotation marks from here on out because that would be annoying to read; just realize that I am making no attempt to actually define the terms, but am just using them in a general and relative sense.
4There is no doubt in my mind that there are multiple examples of guys who have come in with more liberal views, tried to bring change to the congregation they were working with and caused a great deal of damage in the process. Nevertheless, I don’t really think this is a common occurrence; it is certainly not true of the vast majority of the many youth ministers I have known and worked with.