More Than a Cool #hashtag

cowtagYouth ministry needs to slay its sacred cows.

Youth workers gripe to high heaven about how church leaders are stuck in a rut.  I’m wondering when we’ll ever take a serious look at our own pavement.

Maybe it’s gone unnoticed, but the worship movement….not really connecting with the Millennial generation in a true and meaningful way.  Oh – and the props and backdrops we spend so much time and energy on….usually unnoticed beyond the cursory glance.  And youth ‘talks’?  Don’t even get me started.  Those aren’t talks…because talking implies conversation — and usually, we’re the only ones doing the talking.  They’re sermons.  We need to end the pastor-practicing and start engaging in conversation.

The days of hip, cool youth ministry are dead – because Millennials have actually made space for everyone at the table.  They don’t care if it’s hip, awesome, entertaining, excellent, or quippy.  (Actually, they do kind of enjoy quippy.)  But what they embrace most is authenticity, respect, conversation, community, relationship and the greater cause.

Sadly, many youth ministries are so busy riding our sacred cows….we aren’t even in the same pasture.  As long as we hashtag it…we’re good.

I’d love to see a youth ministry throw it all out and start from scratch.  Retool how worship gets accomplished….maybe it’s a little more scriptural than ‘relevant music’ and ‘youth bands’.  Maybe it’s life change.  I’d love to see sermons morph from one-way pipelines of information to a flood of honest, uncloaked conversations.  I’d love to see rooms more focused toward one another than the staging area…eliminating the need to props and backdrops.  I know – maybe we actually put something tangible and touchable within the grasp of students that might cause them to think, grapple, question, or reinforce.  And if we’re going to use hashtags for real – let’s make them something that matters, not just a tool for social promotion.

Someone has said ‘sacred cows make the best burgers.’  FALSE!  That meat is rancid and covered in maggots.  Just throw it out.

Author: Darren Sutton

I've been in student ministry nearly 30 years…which generally just confirms how much I still don't know. Some days I'm the pizza-eating, over-responding, teaching-on-the-fly, desperate-for-volunteers, frustrated-with-co-workers youth leader that we all are. And sometimes…I knock it out of the park. I'm everywhere on social media that you are!

6 thoughts on “More Than a Cool #hashtag”

  1. Thank you for putting the truth so clearly in front of all of us; we cannot complain about the stale state of our churches if we are not willing to look more closely at the state of our own ministries. Youth need more. Not more programs and entertainment, they can find that anywhere. They need more honest relationships with people who love them.

  2. How do you define whether someone has a sacred cow – their hostility to other ideas? If so, look in the mirror, perro. From where I’m sitting it looks like you need to dismount the cow.

    #REALTALK, tho – How are you engaging students in relationships in the church where you work?

    1. Not at all, perro – I define it as an inability to see past their own tired, traditional, easy, lazy way of doing things simply because it is ‘the way it’s always been done.’

      I stopped riding cows a long time ago, friend.

      We have up-ended everything we do. If there isn’t a conversational element, we re-work it until there is – everything from room set-up & design to speaking technique to game choice to when we start tearing down after an event is over.

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