Saturday, October 23, 2010

Combating Generalizations of Youth Workers

Youth workers have a bad reputation in church ministry. Recently, I was part of discussion on youth workers physical stereotypes. You've heard them, they must be male, play the guitar, and of course have a goatee.

I thought I’d take a few minutes to bring up the generalizations I often hear about youth workers character and work traits. Here are the expressions of angst and some reasons behind the generalizations I often hear for a dislike of youth workers:

1. They come off as knowing it all; they’ve been there and done that. Think tend to they can change the world overnight.

2. They are not patient. They are ignorant of how churches really get things done, yet they want their way right anyway.

3. They are unbalanced and lack personal management skills. Work, but take a day off. Spend time with your family; and yet do what you have do during your office hours.

4. They tend to be disrespectful. If most only knew the many times their senior pastor has put himself in the line of fire for them.

5. Youth group is unbiblical. Where is youth group in the Bible? Where are youth workers in the Bible? Worse yet, let's have a separate church rather than have teens be a part of the church body as a whole!

6. They tend to be program-centric. They focus on messages and capitalism. There is enough publishing houses; superconferences; music festivals, CCM music and that "ministering" to the youth culture in the name of the Lord. Some how I think I've had enough of the spam - of you'll like this speaker or band; or camp; or curriculum or this or that WWJD or Jabez or the latest trend. All of them operate in the name of the Lord? Seems to me, the Lord might be overthrowing some tables and say GET OUT of my Father's House and making it a Den of Thieves. Christian Music alone is a multi-billion dollar industry - let's not forget the Publishing books. Has creativity or coming up with one's own lessons gone out the window? I guess youth pastors are just like us pastors – free to plagiarize.

7. They ooze with pride and ego. I hear more comparing about numbers than I would expect at an IRS or a CPA convention. So what is the size of your group? Seems youth pastors' egos are based on the size of their group; church; salary; and so forth. Isn’t that sad? Whatever happened to - oh, Youth Ministry? Yeah; I work in a small church I oversee Nursery to College. Seems we want everyone to be more specialized; since when is bigger better or is it? I want a youth worker to say I have 2 students in my youth group; and I give them as much attention as any student at such and such mega church.

8. They spend too much time talking about youth ministry; but are they actually doing it? Oh, youth pastors like to talk; and get feathers in their cap; but what are they actually doing? Where is the discussion about that?

9. They exhibit a lack of long-term planning. Most youth pastors I’ve met don't plan. I noticed one topic on YMX regarding planning for the next year. I didn't see too many responses. Doesn’t a lack of planning and time management exhibit poor stewardship? What do you want your middle schoolers to learn and know by the time the are entering High School? What about your High Schoolers? What about after they leave your ministry? Do you have things in place during and now that they are incorporated into the larger body of Christ? Also lack of planning - gives room for no accountability with finances; counseling; time alone with the opposite sex? How do you address those hot buttons in your ministry?

10. They use poor conflict resolution skills. They would rather run and hide or quit or resign than admit failure or accept constructive criticism. But usually when conflict arises we either want to hit it head on or ignore it. Both are accidents waiting to happen. If we learn how to do this, it would help our ministry in the long run.

I hope this isn't read that I don't dislike youth workers. I am one! The reasons above are just a drop in the bucket of what are I have seen and heard. There are many great youth workers out there who have dealt with my list and their lives blow it out of the park. I really do love youth pastors but generalizations and situations like the above give the name of Youth Pastor a bad reputation.

1 comment:

Matt Murphy said...

Great points. Perhaps more developed than mine. I am posting my top ten, first five today (10 Qualities of a Professional Youth Pastor (1-5)), and the next five tomorrow. I'm thinking of adding a specific section on follow up and follow through.

Thanks for posting on my wall.