Thursday, April 12, 2007

Longevity in YM (Part 1)...

I got a call this week from a college student who was looking for someone who had been in youth ministry for more than five years. I guess I qualified. I've been doing this full-time for 7 years, but working with students for almost 12. He was looking for 10 keys to longevity (I provided 11 so I would appear smart) when working with students.

I'll admit that most of this list isn't new. In fact, most of it is probably covered in every good youth ministry book ever written, but it's stuff that I've tried to put in place or stuff I'm trying to put in place, and it seems to be working. Here's part of what what I sent him. I'll save the rest for next week.

1. Be Willing to Learn
This involves being a student of students. You need to know who you’re trying to serve. This requires attending classes, seminars, courses, speaking events, movies and anything else that deals with students (ie– what they do/listen to; how to reach them; how to help them, how to understand them, etc). If you don’t learn, you won’t get better at what you do and you won’t last.

2. Read Lots
And don’t just read about youth ministry. Try to wrap your brain around other things and other ministries—even things you don’t particularly care for or understand. Remember that we are training students who will one day be leading our other ministries in church. It helps to know what we can do to train them for that. And it helps to know what’s going on around us. And lastly, it makes you look like you know what you’re doing when you’re reading books that other non-youth workers are reading!

3. Hang Out With Adults
Someone once told me that I should spend an hour in meaningful conversation with people my own age for every hour I spend with students (it was likely Marv Penner). Students, while a focus of my world, shouldn’t be my entire world. I need to remember that I am an adult and that adolescence is temporary. I cannot live in the world of teenagers without it affecting me somehow, so I need something to balance it.

4. Don’t Stoop to Cheap Tricks and Gimmicks
The minute I try to compete with iPods, cell phones, parties, TV, Hollywood and Disneyland...I will lose. Don’t try to get students with gimmicks. They’ll take the freebies but it won’t bring about any lasting growth. If I’m all about the “cool factor”, I won’t last.

5. Preach the Word
Keep yourself grounded in the Word and keep preaching the truth of the Word and you’ll likely be ok (I’ll admit that you’re never completely safe). The troubles tend to arise on the extra commentaries that so many people try to force on Scripture. Sure, there’s a time and place for adding your two cents, but let’s remember that the Bible IS the Word of God and what you and I say isn’t. Keep it truthful!

6. Know Your Elders & Your Senior Pastor
Spend time getting to know your elders and who they are and what they are about. Genuinely care about then, pray for them, encourage them and support them. Even, dare I say it, hang out with them! If you want to last, you will want to have as many of them as possible in your corner.


Coutts said...

more confirmation that despite your love for man U you are a frigging genius.

Knotter said...

I guess we all have our faults.