Monday, January 17, 2011

Many things I know in life I've learned from doing youth ministry

I've been involved in youth ministry, either as a participant or a volunteer, for almost 20 years now (which is really kinda scary for me to think about). Over those years, I've spent time with a lot of people and learned a lot about Jesus and the church, how to do ministry, how to live life, how to love people and a lot of other things. And I hope to continue to be involved in youth ministry for a long time to come. But, as we've been in a time of transition, I've gotten to thinking a lot about the ministries I've been a part of and the people I've known. And I've been updating my list of things I've learned over the years. I thought some of you might enjoy reading these...or at least recognize some of the life lessons you've been a part of. :)

So, in no particular order...
Many things I've learned from being a part of youth ministry:

- The Beatles Abbey Road may very well be the best album ever recorded.

- The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

- I do not go alone; God goes with me.

- At the nursing home, no matter what happens, just keep playing.

- When playing a song, getting all the notes right is nice but not really required.

- God is good and what he does is good.

- Step out and embrace the awkward!

- When you first start out at a new place, you can get away with a lot by blaming it on "the transition".

- Embrace the experience when the game of capture the flag turns into a water balloon fight. You can't program events like that.

- Ice cream is an amazing motivator.

- It's a good thing that you're sad someone is leaving. It means they've affected your life in a positive way. But realizing that doesn't make their leaving any easier.

- Giving a kid a dollar for doing something random they wouldn't normally do is usually a good investment.

- Being cool isn't that important, especially in the long run. Being real, being consistent and sometimes just being there is what matters.

- Don't mess with a guy's coffee.

- Adding parents to a youth event, while not necessarily a bad idea on occasion, will, most likely, lead to a quieter youth event.

- Don't expect thoughtful answers to theological questions before a guy has had his second cup of coffee.

- Be very, very careful when you recommend movies.

- Pay no attention to the typos in the song book. Just sing the words that are supposed to be printed there.

- If you get someone to help you with something, you won't be the only one getting blamed when others get upset about it.

- If you make a situation out to be the worst it could possibly be, people won't be too upset when it goes less than perfect but better than terrible.

- If there are no rules restricting playing active games in the fellowship hall as long as you don't break anything, there's a good chance no one will realize you're doing it and won't make rules against it.

- Don't worry so much about the people who aren't there. Rather, be excited about and focus on the people who are there.

- "I don't know." is a great answer, especially when followed by "But I'll find out and get back to you.

- Never be ashamed to admit that you're having a hard time believing all this stuff is really real, that God exists and he really does love you.

- It's okay to cry in church, even if you're the one doing the preaching.

- Never ask if someone will read or pray, instead, ask WHO will read or pray.

- Jeff's right, all tequilas really do taste the same.

- We should not be surprised when non-Christians don't act like Christians.

- Mooch off your parents for as long as you can.

- You can shine pennies with Taco Bell hot sauce.

- Ministry can and often does take place over a burrito or milkshake, on a ski lift, while mixing concrete by hand, or doing other less than ministry-y activities.

- ATP stands for Adult Type Person - Someone who is old and responsible enough that parents trust them to take their kids out of state for a week or more but not so old nor mature that they're above starting a marshmallow or shaving cream fight.

- With a small crowd, ditching the planned activity or lesson to go out for ice cream, donuts or a movie is not only a legitimate plan but often a really good idea.

- You have to earn the right to be heard and that takes time.

- Don't get discouraged when, after carefully planning a lesson, the kids seem unimpressed or even bored, leave your finely crafted handouts behind and can't recall what you taught on the next week. God is faithful and some of it really does get through and stick.

- Even kids too young to read, talk or even walk can minister to other people.

- One of the great things about being a volunteer is ultimatly not being in charge of anything and being able to answer, "Ask (insert name of the guy in charge)" in response to a difficult question or awkward response.

- Ultimate Frisbee is harder but still a lot of fun when played in the dark, with an LED lit frisbee and glowstick bracelets.

- When coming upon a game of Ultimate frisbee being played in the dark, the only thing leaving your car headlights on does is annoy those playing. It does not help illuminate the field or make anything any easier. Really! Just turn them off.

- Adding sugar to high school students is a good way to encourage verbal interaction during Sunday school. But don't use Laffy Taffy. The sugar concentration is too high and the jokes overly distracting.

- A good portion of youth ministry is just showing up consistently. A good portion of what's left is simply listening.


Louanne said...

this made me smile

crystal.travel6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.