Youth Ministry Tips I got from the Grammys

sara-bareilles-carole-king-grammys-brave-beautiful-mashup-at-grammys-2014-videoI love me a good awards show.  It doesn’t matter if I’m ‘into’ what’s being awarded or not.  (Like half the awards shows I watch I don’t even know what they’re for!!)  I like to watch so I can smack-talk the whole time.  One day, I want to have my own ‘can you believe she wore that’ show on some second-rate cable channel.

So, last night, I dutifully tuned in to the Grammys.  And I spent ample time on Facebook being silly and making jokes and marveling at the fact that Metallica got old and Willie Nelson is still alive.

But I also took away an amazing word-picture of what I believe most churches are missing in their youth ministries.

The Grammys has taken to some pretty amazing live performance mash-ups.  Techno with balladeers.  Concert pianists with metal heads.  Rap stars with rock stars.

But one of the more poignant performances in last night’s show was given by an old/new mash-up. Sara Bareilles joined forces with Carole King and gave us this amazing performance.  At the end of the performance, Ms. Bareilles is very obviously enraptured with this music icon and honored to have played alongside her.

We’re missing that in youth ministry when:

a) We just throw curriculum in the hands of leaders and say ‘teach this’.  Every leader has an experience to share – an expertise to wield – a story to pass down.  Make sure you teach them how to do that – and then give them space to do it!

b)  We only use one age group to lead.  It’s a knee-jerk reaction to assume that only 20-somethings and few hipster 30’s can get the youth ministry job done.  Age is a crown of glory – and if we aren’t utilizing leaders from every generation, we aren’t doing church biblically.

c)  We get caught up in our current culture and dismiss the cultures that have come before.  One of the most beautiful (and sometimes strange) parts of the 2014 Grammys were the unusual duets and trios comprised of artists from seemingly opposed musical genres.  It was a little messy at times – but it made for some very compelling performances and an awards show that was one of the best concerts I have ever seen.  To do less in our youth ministries is very one directional.  (pun definitely intended.)

So take a youth ministry lesson from the Grammys – and enlist a grammy or granddad to participate in the student ministry.  Mix it up.  Make a beautiful mess.  And see if your students don’t respond a lot like Sara did at the end of her riffs with Carole – giddy, enthralled, and amazed!

REAL Youth Ministry Community

giftsYouth workers.  Answer this.  Do you live in TRUE community with people?  I don’t mean church members.  I’m not considering students.  I’m talking about folks you can be totally authentic around…and who get it.  Do you live in true community with other youth workers?

Let me tell you something….I do.  For the first time in  over 20 years, I know TRUE community with my youth ministry colleagues.  The letters in this photo show it.

We’ve had some ‘hard knocks’ in ministry – some people would call them sucker punches to the throat – these past few years.  You know what I mean if you been in church work longer than four days.  People you served and loved and walked alongside who just ripped the rug out from under you….by cutting your legs off.

A few years prior to this series of unfortunate events, we were introduced to a group of youth workers across the country.  We were blessed to begin developing relationship with them.  Little did we know why God had brought them into our lives.  For such a time as this.

Evaluate your youth ministry cadre of companions!

1.  Do you know anything personal about them?  If you don’t know about their kids – their spouse’s name – or some of their insecurities….you aren’t in true community.

2.  Have you spent time together working?  If you haven’t spent some time dreaming and doing youth ministry together…even if it’s just the sharing of ideas….you aren’t in true community.  We live and breathe that stuff — it can’t be extricated from the friendship!

3.  Have you ONLY spent time working together?  Then you aren’t in true community.  If all your network of ministry buddies does is plan community events, you aren’t in community – you’re in a co-op.

4.  Have you ever prayed aloud with one another?  Really?  You should.  Nothing builds community like gathering two or three together and calling on the One who shows up when we do that.

5.  Have your spouses ever met?  Listen – they need community more than we ever did!  Get those girls (or guys) together!!!

Last week, Katie and I were talking about our friends.  We were wondering how much longer it was going to take for outside observers to start acting like Job’s ‘friends’…wondering what we were doing (or did) wrong to have to endure this season…

My community had no idea we were in that dark, dysfunctional place.  And they showed up by the prompting of the Holy Spirit – laid out before the beginning of time – for such a time as this.  Not one condemnation.  Not one accusation.  Not one doubt about our faithfulness or fortitude to follow Christ EXACTLY how He’s asked us to…into the hard place this time.

THAT’S community – and if you’re a youth pastor – you need to get some.  The letters are still coming.

%d bloggers like this: