I write a column for Group Magazine called The Youth Ministry Drill Sergeant. Sometimes, I’m known for shooting straight – plain talk – ‘telling it like it is.’ :) Today will be one of those days. Inspired by a friend of mine (you’ll hear from him tomorrow), I’m throwing out three ‘gems’ of wisdom – straight talk for the new youth pastor.
1. Parents are not your problem. You are. Stop viewing parents as the enemy. They are the most important spiritual force a student will ever have. If you marginalize them – you marginalize the student. Build some bridges. Make an effort – even if they don’t.
2. Don’t spend more time on programming than you do relationships and Bible study. It makes your ministry a mile wide and an inch deep (and it might make YOU that, too.) It’s a slippery slope – so pay attention to where your best efforts are being funneled.
3. Your age is relative and does NOT make your more relatable to students. What helps students relate to adults is care – concern – love – investment. You will be old some day – and unless you’re using youth ministry as a stepping stone, you better hope your age isn’t the only thing you have going for you. Use various age groups for leadership in your ministry – just make sure they all love God and love teenagers. That’s what makes them relevant in the life of teenagers.
More straight talk tomorrow….this message brought to you by your friendly neighborhood drill sergeant.
….or so I was told this weekend by my dear friend and young youth pastor. While I know that most people believe this statement to be true of me – I was completely offended on behalf of my brethren vets! After clarifying his statement – I realized it was a badge of honor he was pinning to my chest!
Veteran YPs are full of….experience. We’ve lived it – and undoubtedly have at least three dozen T-shirts to show for it. Not only are we in the trenches – in a lot of cases, we dug those trenches ourselves. We’ve walked more than a mile in those shoes – and some of those miles we probably ran…barefooted….in the snow….uphill both ways.
Veteran YPs are full of….mistakes. We haven’t always gotten it right – and we still don’t. Periodically we lose receipts….or kids on a mountain during summer camp. Sometimes we plan a really spiritual event that flops…or our own retreat-version of UFC that, while lacking in depth and holiness, goes down in history as the best youth ministry event ever. Occasionally the budget doesn’t balance…nor do our family commitments. We’re still learning.
Veteran YPs are full of….it. You may know it as ‘the call.’ It’s the ‘it’ that keeps us in when our joints and muscles drive us out. It’s the ‘it’ that brings a smile to our face when we’re asked for the 1,437th time when we’re gonna become a real pastor. It’s the ‘it’ that makes us see promise – and Jesus – in teenagers when most people see problems – and that other one.
Veteran youth pastors are most assuredly full of it. If you’re working in youth ministry – you should get close and see if you can get some of it on you.