13 Lies About Youth Ministry
This a shared post originally published by YouthWorker Journal. It was so good that we wanted to pass it on to you. We hope it brings you some encouragement this week!
Lie Number One: Youth ministry is about numbers.
It’s the question that plagues youth ministers across the country: “How many kids are showing up?” The truth is that youth ministry usually occurs in the small. One kid says, “Would you come to my band concert?” Or three guys say, “Hey, you know McDonald’s has 99-cent Happy Meals after nine o’clock.” A roomful of kids playing Shuffle Your Buns is not necessarily youth ministry.
Lie Number Two: Youth ministry is about office hours, budgets, church newsletter articles, and listing your five-year goals.
If we spent a lot of time on a bunch of those types of things, we wouldn’t have time to actually spend with youth.
Lie Number Three: The youth need a service project.
(What they really mean is the evangelism committee wants the youth to come and do the dishes at the pancake breakfast.) If you aren’t going to ask the ladies’ quilting circle to wash your dishes, then don’t ask my youth.
Lie Number Four: Youth should participate in all activities.
Chances are you’ve got at least one kid who spends every other weekend with the other set of parents, has a job, a girlfriend, plays a high school sport, and still has to maintain his grades. Are we really going to hold this kid’s mission trip discount hostage because he couldn’t make the fundraiser?
Lie Number Five: Mountain Dew is not a youth ministry tool.
You take 20+ kids to another state, sleep on a floor, and work all day—then come talk to me about the evils of caffeine.
Lie Number Six: To be a youth worker you must be white, male, under 30, and play guitar.
Not true. I can’t play the guitar at all, and . . . well . . . I’m definitely not under 30.
Lie Number Seven: You are in charge.
The truth is God is in charge. Other than that you have to run everything past the church secretary.
Lie Number Eight: Mission trips are about serving others.
The truth is that mission trips are as much for your students as they are for those being served. Mission trips are about making disciples.
Lie Number Nine: Youth ministry is about making teens into fine young adults.
Let’s be real: youth ministry is about giving kids a safe place to be themselves—even if it’s only for two hours a week.
Lie Number Ten: Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz ice cream is proof enough of the existence of God.
Ben and Jerry are just two nice guys from Vermont. If you need proof of the existence of God, you have to go to Krispy Kreme.
Lie Number Eleven: The property committee is sending spies in on a Sunday night to make sure you aren’t damaging the building or playing football on the roof (again).
This is not true. There are no spies. They have hidden cameras.
Lie Number Twelve: The average youth ministry position lasts 18 months.
Not true. This is one of those classic youth ministry urban legends. It’s fiction—like the 100% funded mission trip or the group that got all the permission slips in early. A recent survey of North American churches showed the average paid youth minister has been at his/her church for more than four years. (It’s the above average ones we seem to lose too quickly.)
The Greatest Lie of All: Youth ministry is a stepping-stone to real ministry.
Youth ministry is real ministry. It is a calling. Perhaps the highest calling. Everyone loves to work with the little kids (free hugs and they listen to you). People will actually volunteer to lead an adult Sunday school class (to have adult conversations). Teenagers scare people, and yet most church folk have a hard time seeing what you do as God’s work. If you’re in youth ministry, you are a minister in the truest sense of the word. If you’re a volunteer in youth ministry you get to bypass the line at the pearly gates and go right to the counter where Jesus is waiting with a cup of coffee and a warm Krispy Kreme.
Steve Case has been active in youth ministry for 18 years, currently at Windermere Union United Church of Christ near Orlando, Florida. He’s also a popular speaker and the author of several books, including Everything Counts and The Book of Uncommon Prayer.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.