Youth Worker Fallout Prompts 'Soul School'

Youth workers get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of ministry and the lives of their students that they often forget to look after their own selves, and more importantly, their soul.

Jeanne Stevens, director of training at Youth Specialties, encourages youth ministry workers to attend "Soul School" and pick up on how to get in touch with who they are and who God is. Soul School is a new book releasing this week that aims to fill the gap on soul caring for youth workers who are usually ill-equipped in that area.

"I don't know if we have ever sent youth workers through a school of the soul," said Stevens in an interview with Youth Specialties, noting that youth workers are usually only taught how to give great talks, play fun games with kids, and take students on engaging mission trips.

Stevens' book comes after years of watching youth workers come with passion and leave with exhaustion.

"When they came, they always arrived with this excitement and this energy and this passion. And on the surface they appeared to be very healthy and ready to run," said Stevens as she described the many youth workers she saw come and go at her church in Chicago.

"Over time, I watched too many of them start to get this overwhelming sense of exhaustion. Not just their bodies but their souls started to look tired," she said. And too many have walked away not knowing themselves or God, she added.

Soul School takes youth workers on a journey to connect with God, gain a deeper awareness of themselves, and get on the road toward a healthier future. Readers are asked to make a commitment and essentially "enroll" in the school of the soul by signing and dating the book.

In other related news, Stevens is scheduled to hold the first-ever HERstory event specifically for women in youth ministry a day ahead of the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta, Nov. 16-19. Women will engage in conversations to talk about struggles and encourage one another in the youth business.

"In my opinion, women in youth ministry are making history," said Stevens.