Everyone (including me) is a-twitter about Miley’s performance on the VMAs this week. (Thus, accomplishing exactly what Miley’s producers and handlers surely hoped would happen!) Publicity is publicity, good or bad.
Most of us remember the sweet days of Hannah Montana – and Miley’s resolute stance on the role faith played in her life. Those days certainly seem dichotomous with what was on the MTV stage the other night.
So if I was Miley’s youth pastor, how would I respond to her?
1. I would remind her that she is loved. I would let her know that there are people around her who are for her, not against her. And that she is loved with an everlasting love that’s steadfast, never-ending, and not based on performance.
2. I would tell her that she’s a treasure – and I look forward to the day when she sees herself that way…and treats herself that way.
3. I would caution her not to make choices in her decade of decision that will follow her into her decade of consequence.
4. I would jog her memory of days gone by – and suggest that should she ever decide to return to those convictions, she can always, ALWAYS find her way home.
5. And then I would punch Robin Thicke in the throat.
Most of you missed the train wreck that was Miley Cyrus’ performance on the VMAs last night. Be grateful. The long and short of it: she twerked and grinded on a foam finger and several others….in a nude colored bikini….through the entire song.
If you were able to stick it out through that unfortunate excuse for entertainment, you eventually saw Justin Timberlake (complete with a mini-reunion of *NSYNC) bring the house down with the redemption performance of the night.
What do we learn about youth ministry? Here’s just a quick list–
1. Edgy doesn’t mean quality. If your ministry is simply about getting ‘ratings’, you need to re-evaluate. You might get the ‘ratings’ you’re hoping for, but at what cost — and can that kind of ‘show’ sustain?
2. People will talk (and tweet) more about the missteps and mistakes of youth ministers than their success stories. Even Miley supporters agree that she was smutty, vulgar, and talent-less…and NO ONE was afraid to tweet, meme, and post about it. Expect people to point out your failures and notice your short comings more easily than your steady, quality leadership. And expect them to tell people about it when you screw up.
3. Performance always out lives and outshines entertainment. The social media love thrown JT’s way was supportive, respectful, and appreciative…although not as plentiful as the Miley-rants. He had more airtime and more kudos and a more enjoyable show…and there’s a reason for that. Timberlake has a talent and longevity in the business that garners respect and attention in the most positive ways. And though people occasionally talk about Miley Cyrus, they buy Justin Timberlake’s albums. If you want to build something in student ministry that lasts, give a quality performance (as in ‘job performance, work ethic, career longevity). Entertainment only lasts so long…