My Three Worst Moments in Youth Ministry

I have done many, many stupid things. I have said things that were foolish; I have misquoted and poorly paraphrased Scripture. I have been a cold-hearted jerk and a sarcastic bully. I led 18 years olds when I was 19 years old. I have broken things—many things. I have neglected volunteers and ignored sensible advice from parents. I’ve been in ministry a long time. Here are some of my low points.

My 3 Worst Moments in YM

1) I once told 100 middle schoolers to shut up, from the mic, during youth group.

That’s a dumb thing to do—sixth graders are probably not allowed to say that—and the room was also filled with parents. Plus it makes me a bully. I place a high value on honesty, but that was a “too real” moment.

It happened after my second child was born. She has a lot of medical issues and only slept a few hours a night. When she slept it was on my chest or my wife’s chest—we took turns sleeping with her in the recliner. I was very tired, and a tired minister is a stupid minister. I was not asking for enough help at home or in ministry, and kids saw me at the end of my rope. I am sure some sixth grader went home terrified and never came back.

2) I once led a girls’ Bible study for six weeks.

It bears mentioning, I am a man. At this early stage in my ministry I only had one volunteer on our small group night, another man. So he led the boys’ group and I led the girls’ group. This wasn’t a temporary plan, it was the plan. I only did it for six weeks because it became apparent quickly that I didn’t know what I was doing and it was not working for anyone.

I believe it is important to have opposite gender role-models for teenage boys and girls. But I could have broken these groups out in a different way. I was doing what I knew, and as far as I knew, small groups were split by gender. If I had explained my situation to five middle school girl mothers, I guarantee I would have found three small group leaders. But I didn’t ask—I just led the world’s worst girls’ small group for six painful weeks. And if it was painful for me, I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for those poor girls.

I was very tired, and a tired minister is a stupid minister.

3) I broke the bus, then fell apart.

I once drove our giant 33-passenger bus through a ditch at our weekend retreat. Everyone drives through the ditch, it saves like five minutes. But everyone isn’t driving a giant bus. The front half went through just fine, then the rear bumper hit the ground and the back wheels were not touching the ground at all. Then I totally fell apart right before the super meaningful Sunday morning communion service. I was absolutely inconsolable.

Also, my wife and I had just gotten two foster kids. Three weeks before the event my family doubled in size. While my presence was important, I should not have been at that weekend retreat. My stress level was the highest it has ever been, and (again) I wasn’t sleeping.  Want to know how you drive a bus in the ditch? That’s how.

Yeah, there are more. I could go all day. Perhaps you could, also. Bring the comments! What was your worst moment? How did it come about?

At the end of the day, we all have our moments and make mistakes. The important part is to continue to show up, continue to be faithful, and continue to love students and trust that God will use us.

 About the Author: Tyler Fuller
tyler fuller
The only job I have ever pursued is vocational ministry. I spent over a decade doing
Young Life and church Youth Ministry. I am now the Missions Pastor at a mega
church in the panhandle of Florida (who still gets to work with youth every day!)



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  1. […] More often than I’d like to admit, I have made mistakes. I’ve dropped the ball, I’ve been rude, I’ve been sarcastic and snarky in ways that hurt people. I’ve made some flat out poor decisions. […]

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