Question:My youth group is going through a period of leadership change. I've prayed about it, but I don't feel good about the coming months. I just don't think anyone can replace the old youth minister. Is it all right that I feel pessimistic about the change? What can I do?
Change is difficult. Change is especially hard when you had a really good experience with a previous youth minister. However, just as God led your youth minister to leave, God has good plans for you and the youth group. Sometimes in a transition, you and others will have to take on more responsibility. Sometimes when there is change in life, we have to depend more on God than before, and believe me, He is not finished with your Christian growth or your youth group's growth. If I were you, I would feel down too, but don't let it take you away from God or fellowship. I actually know students who have left a youth group and walked away from an intimate relationship with God because a leader left the group. The person it hurt was themselves. I hope you will use this time, without your youth minister, as a time to look for ways to grow in your own faith. Take on some of the leadership in your group. You won't be able to replace a special youth minister in your life, but you can continue to grow with God's help. When I was a youth pastor in Southern California, I met a young 8th grader named Doug. He was a most incredible young man and for the next 4 years we hung out. He was a natural leader, and I took him on trips with me as well as spent a lot of time each week together. When Doug was in 12th grade, I moved to another church. Doug wanted to follow me and leave his church to come to this new church. I told Doug that I believed he needed to stay put and fill some of the leadership vacuum my leaving had put on the youth group. Doug did stay and his senior year was his strongest year spiritually. We kept in touch and eventually he moved to a college near by and became an intern for me. Later, he filled my position when I left the next church. Today, Doug Fields is probably the world's most famous and influential youth worker from Saddleback Church in California. He still tells me that it was the year in my absence that he was forced to lead, and it made him a stronger Christ-follower and solidified his call from God to do youth ministry himself. I think you could be that kind of a person. You can choose pessimism about the youth group in the absence of your leader or you can choose to make a positive difference. I vote for making an eternal difference.