I got the call that I get so often. “Our youth director has told us she’s leaving.” After only being there for 18 months. 

This was the 16th youth staff member that had left in ten years. While many of those were short-term interns, all the staff transitions had taken their toll. For a 6400-member church, they were down to 20 youth weekly. Youth and parents were disappointed and hurt. One youth shared, “My least favorite thing about the youth ministry is that no one can ever stay with us. I feel that we always get lied to and left for the better option.”

Ouch. No one ever intended for that to happen. But it did.

Over those ten years, the church had conducted their own searches and hires. And they hired some great people – who didn’t stick around. Leadership was left with questions each time they started another search like: Was the salary not high enough? What should we even be paying a youth director? Was there enough youth ministry staffing to begin with? What kind of staffing structure is needed for our youth program? Why is everyone leaving? Anxiety levels were on the rise and they needed to find a replacement quickly – preferably yesterday.

Over the years, the church did what many churches often do. They tried changing the staffing structure. They eliminated a position in order to raise the salary. They added interns. They asked for a 5-year commitment in the interviews. They did everything except for what they needed to do. They saw a gaping wound and instead of going to the doctor to stitch it closed, they put a small band-aid on it in the hopes that the bleeding would stop. This time around, they asked for a doctor. The church called Ministry Architects to help assess the situation and assist the search team with the next hire. 

We did what we do best. We observed, listened, and brought our expert’s eye to the situation and were able to give them a diagnosis and assist them in their search. Click To Tweet

Many of the systems in the youth ministry were in need of repair. The church began to make those repairs and we continued to walk alongside them and facilitate the search. 

The difference this time around is that the church stopped and took the time to answer all those questions. Instead of guessing what kind of staffing structure might work, we helped them see what they needed. Instead of throwing money at the problem, we advised them on the right salary range for the kind of person that they needed for their youth ministry, in their church, in their town.

We carried the load of networking, promoting, and screening so that the church could focus their energy on two things — talking to the best candidates and discerning who was called to their church. Click To Tweet

Four months later, they made a hire. Two and a half years later, that staff person is still there. And the youth ministry is flourishing. Just the other day I saw a Facebook post with pictures from the annual youth ski trip. And it made me smile. For a part of their journey, we were able to serve this church so that they could better serve God’s people. 

Here’s what one of the pastors shared with us later: 

“We had a strong sense of trust that we were in good hands, primarily because you wanted to pay attention to the system and not just help us find a person. No one else shared your expertise in the area nor offered to pay attention to what we saw as the most critical point of this transition – building a sustainable youth program to serve our community. Others just wanted to do headhunting, but you were more interested in building a vital ministry.”

If this story resonates with you, or you’d simply like to learn more about our search process, click here to connect with one of our search specialists.

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