Ask Dr. Youth
group magazine: November-December, 2008
“ask dr. youth” is a humor and advice column for those on the front lines of youth ministry. Remember, Dr. Youth is a professional sarcasamist—some advice is sound, the rest is for cheap laughs. Email your problem to DrYouth@youthministry.com.
Dear Dr. Youth,
I met 16-year-old Kevin at a Group Workcamp. He said he’s been going to the same church for a long time, and he and his family love their church. But the last three or four years they’ve had a youth leader who, in Kevin’s opinion, isn’t very interested in any kind of outreach or activities that challenge the youth group to grow beyond their walls. Kevin said he talked to the youth leader about it, but didn’t get much of a response. He said his parents are thinking about leaving the church because it’s fallen into a comfortable rut and they’re not growing anymore. But Kevin would rather stay at the church and encourage change. Do you have any words of wisdom I can pass along?
One of the hardest parts about being a youth pastor is that you’re expected to be all things to all people. You must be a good speaker and a good listener, constantly find new games and discussion starters, and plan huge youth events while at the same time spending no money at all. You must spend countless hours with teenagers, but always be in the office when needed. You must be innovative, but not upset tradition. And you also get to be the janitor. Every youth pastor brings certain gifts to the table—maybe this one’s gifts aren’t in outreach. Your boy Kevin is obviously all about serving—so let him serve. But he can’t try to undermine the youth pastor’s program by starting a side one. If enough youth ask for outreach opportunities, the youth pastor will probably program that way. Sometimes we need to go where we’re sent. Brother Lawrence, the 17th-century monk who wrote The Practice of The Presence of God, said, “If I cannot serve God here...I will serve him somewhere else.”
God Has a Sense of Humor (Everywhere)