Youth Ministry 101

i’m a product of people who invested in me when i was younger.

looking back,  the best thing i brought to the table was that i was pretty aware that i was clueless…and i was willing to let other people teach me.   about myself.   about life.   about marriage.   about god.   about youth ministry.   for some reason,  i’ve never had much of a problem admitting my need for the wisdom of others.

in my early twenties,  i was taught a lesson in youth ministry that has served me my entire life…not just with kids,  but in most everywhere i have wandered on my journey:   build your life on principles,  not programs or practices or ideas.   programs and ideas can change in a heartbeat.   good principles are timeless and transcend culture.

on tuesday nights for a while,  i think i want to pass on some of those youth ministry principles i have picked up along the way… timeless truths that have always applied to my work with kids…but have been good in just about every area of my life,  also.   here you go…

“fun is not what you’re doing,  but who you’re with.”

kids are notorious for asking,  “but will it be fun?”   it’s tolerable when a twelve-year-old asks it.   it’s pathetic when an adult does.   but the principle is true for all.

here are a few places i have found some over-the-top,  out-of-bounds fun over the years:

…digging dirt at the bottom of twelve-foot deep hole for a new septic tank with a group of kids.

in a broken down church bus on the side of the road in 100 degree heat on the way home from a youth trip.

riding in the back of a flat-bed truck in the pouring rain on the way back  from a VBS program while in the philippines.

helping a hurting kid up a 2000ft  switch back on a youth group backpack.

serving with a group of friends at a camp for special needs kids.

sitting around a campfire in mexico,  muscles cramped and feet freezing,  at the end of a long work day.

spending time with a family at a funeral home as they plan a funeral and reminisce about a lost loved one.

eating crummy gas station fast food in the middle of the night on a youth group road trip.

going to a seventh grade girls basketball game and sitting with some proud parents watching some really bad bball.

staying up all night with kids.

buying dinner for a couple of kids after youth group,  because they have no money.

i learned early on that you can find “fun” anywhere…as long as you’re with people.   especially people you like.   you can find “fun” in the most disgusting,  difficult,  or unpleasant situations.   you just need to be doing what you’re doing with some other people.

so stop asking “what are we going to be doing?”   who cares?   if you must have some information to help you decide if you are going to participate in something,  maybe you should simply ask,  “who wants to join me?”

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4 thoughts on “Youth Ministry 101

  1. “Who wants to join me?” and “Do I get a Bob Auth T-shirt at the end?” that’s the golden ticket right there. 🙂

  2. I heard this comedian joke once that his dad told him if he was bored, to go open a fire hydrant and play in it. The comedian replied “what was once fun for you, Alfa and Spanky is a felony now in the 90’s.”

    I understand your definition of fun, but I don’t think we even make it to the train station to even get to Funtown.

    My thought is that we have SO many rules and regulations now because of all the “FUN” youth groups have had over the years.

    I have to ask myself, would I allow my kiddos to even play they way I did in youth group? For example:

    Going tent to tent camper to camper at a camp ground and asking to trade an object for a better one.

    Going door to door to Christmas Carol. Not down the “M” streets, but through “Any Town USA”

    Capture the flag. Raeshel wanted to play this at the youth allnighter. All I could imagine was someone getting caught on a barbwire fence.(personal experience)

    I guess what I am saying is as a parent and one who continues to celebrate birthdays, I am starting build a governor in my head that is starting to not allow me to run into “fun”. GET THIS THING OUT OF ME!

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