It seems that the first two years in youth ministry were an amazing blur… I had so much energy, so much life, and so much excitement to speak into the lives of teens! It seemed that nothing could take it away from me, but then church council meetings happened, trustees’ made requests, finance cut budgets, and well… (I could add a hundred more things) it seemed like I had nothing left for the teens because I was doing everything else, BUT youth ministry. Worst of all, I felt I was alone in this. There weren’t other youth ministers on staff at my church, and I didn’t talk with others in the area because I was too busy dealing with, well you know.
After struggling with this for a few years, and trying a few things along the way, something needed to happen, but I didn’t have time for something else, and what could possibly help anyway? I started talking with other youth pastors and time and time again, they echoed the same need for a community of Youth Pastors to just get together and share, but nothing was out there.
About a year ago, I started to gather with another Youth Pastor in town and then a couple others and then a couple more. We found it somewhat fed our soul, but we also found that when you have a bunch of Youth Pastors in one room with no guidance, not a whole lot gets done (other than a few things broken). Starting our second year, we decided to continue gathering, but each time to have a topic to discuss for that day. Since then, we have been a bit more organized, and several more Youth Pastors have joined us.
The name came about from one of our first gatherings when we were going around the circle and sharing who we were and what church we worked at. It went something like this: “Hello, I am Chris Cummings and….I’m a Youth Pastor.” You can hear it now “HI CHRIS.” We had figured out our identity, we were a Youth Pastors support group; and thus Youth Pastors Anonymous was officially born!
Each week we continue to have new youth pastors join us and we continue to share life and stories together. I think that as being a youth pastor for 7 years now, one thing that I have found that is lost in the church and among believers is the loss of sharing. Sharing our lives together, sharing our stories of pain and joy, sharing well...everything. There is something that happens when people share: they learn they are not alone, they no longer hold something in and a weight is lifted, they can encourage others, they can challenge others. Youth Pastors Anonymous (YPA) is a place for youth pastors to share. It is a place of sharing where encouragement happens, challenge happens, life together happens, and ultimately healing happens because we are united together in life through Christ.
We know that we are not alone in feeling that our soul is drained and we have nothing left. We know that we are not alone in feeling alone and feeling that no one understands. We know that we are not alone in a need for something to continue to fill us up. This need is met in Youth Pastors Anonymous.
It is more than a once a year Youth Pastors retreat; it is more than the next great idea; it is more than the next great youth retreat high. Youth Pastors Anonymous is a group of people just like you sharing life together. YPA creates relationships that bind us together in our shared calling to teens. YPA fills us, inspires us, reminds us that we are not alone, and that through this Holy Community, God begins to and continues to heal our souls.
Welcome to Youth Pastors Anonymous!