We've known Mark Oestreicher for a long time. He is one of the more thoughtful voices in youth ministry. A post he wrote yesterday on his blog really made us stop and think. He sheds light on the prevalence of youth workers who find themselves mistreated in the course of doing ministry. We get the chance to have face-to-face conversations with hundreds of youth workers a year from across the country. Without question, the topic of burnout, abuse, and overall cummy work environments is one of the main issues plaguing youth pastors.
Here's an exceprt from Mark's post:
i hear these stories every week. literally. there are variations, of course. some involve massive tension with a cold-hearted automaton of a senior pastor over a period of years, resulting in the ministry version of parallel-play (ministering alongside each other without any significant interaction with each other). some involve a spineless yes-man of a senior pastor and an overbearing board with some misguided ideas about what the youth ministry should be doing or valuing.
but the common thread is “abuse”. once in a while, i get the sense that the youth worker was in the wrong (even if only partially). but whether there was wrong on both sides or not, there are all-too-often scenarios where the treatment of the youth worker is unacceptable.
as i was flying home and thinking about and praying for this wonderful and sad youth worker couple, i started to ask myself some more macro-level questions. maybe it was because i was in a plane at the time, 35,000 feet over somewhere. that big-picture view. anyhow…
why is it that churches are SO bad at conflict resolution?
To read the rest of Mark's post on his blog (and to participate in the really good discussion happening in the comments section of the original post), CLICK HERE.