Youth Ministry Hijinks

I read this over on Marie’s blog and thought I would share it here.

Anyway, it made me remember one night when we were having a “fun night” when the college group met in the high school room and I was overcome with physical disgust at the grotesque injustice of a church using tithing funds to purchase what is probably well over $50,000 of video games and electronic devices. I dont have the energy to type right now what it looked like and how I felt, but I will probably write the story soon because it really affected me (i walked out of the church that night never to go back again). But anyway, it made me realize what an injustice it is that some faithful people struggle to give 10% or more or less to their churches and make big sacrifices fearing God’s holy wrath, and the church spends it on useless, worldly, mind-numbing stuff to attract kids and play on their love of video games.

What also disgusts me about this is that I am SURE the less sporty, less “cool” kids get left WAY behind in this group–not to mention the girls who arent as mesmorized with video games and skateboarding…

Having been in youth ministry for years, I agree that some of what I did was outright manipulation at best and a subtle form of child abuse at worst.

I have written how the church needs to trust young adults to lead it if it wants to remain relevant… however, I no longer think that the training ground for this should be youth ministry. We have it all backwards. We let the young lead the young and this is where young pastors develop this sense of ego and entitlement that they bring with them into “big church”. It’s a psycho-social phenomenon that needs to be studied. I think it’s both harmful to the students and to those young leaders that lead them.

People complain that I am long on observations and short on suggestions. So here’s one: If your church has a youth pastor under the age of 30, promote them immediately into either adult ministry or children’s ministry. Then, go out and hire a 30-something youth pastor (preferably a woman), and be prepared to pay them well so they will stick around.

And if all of that sounds too hard, just disband your youth ministry all together. Chances are, the one you have right now is pretty ineffective anyway.

Threatening the Status Quo

There has been talk of a SCP book. Mainly the talk is in my own head and might never find legs, although I took the time to assimilate many of my writings into one document to prepare for self-publishing. In doing so, I wanted to include many of the things I write that never found their way to the blog for whatever reason. Written on October 27, 2005, this post is a flash back to my original angst with the church. I think it is still pertinent today.

Much of my current life seems to be focused on “threatening the status quo” of the religious structures that I have served within for most of my life. Some here may resonant with my quest. Some may not.

I have been accused of exhibiting a type of “ultra-individualistic Romanticism” when speaking of the church and what my ideas or thoughts are regarding a type of restoration for the institution. Remember, although I have mixed emotions regarding the church, I still love her (for some strange reason). My feelings of desiring change cannot be classified as “ultra-individualistic” although many times it seems I am swimming upstream alone. My passion and ideals for the church cannot be classified as “Romanticism” because what I truly see for the church isn’t a “pipe-dream fantasy”.

What I have suggested so far isn’t that hard really. Let’s look at one of my “crazy” ideas.

All pastors should resign as CEO’s of their respective churches. For some this might mean a literal “stepping down” but for most this resignation would be figurative as they seek to remove themselves from the unattainable expectations that have been put upon them by themselves and their churches.

My friend Jeff, from, once commented about his pastor and said this,

I had a conversation with my pastor 2 nights ago. As he spoke, I could see the division within him. He wants to help people. He really does! But then there’s also the bills that need to be paid, the leaky church roof, the grass needs cutting…you know how it goes.

My question to Jeff’s pastor is this, “Why is the pastor in charge of those things? Why doesn’t the pastor just say:

Paying the bills and making sure the grass is cut isn’t what I was called to do. I am called to serve people. From now on, this is not what I am about. I can no longer “run this church”. I will minister and serve those of you with the gifts that cause this church to run, but I will no longer be running it. I don’t care how much money comes in anymore and don’t want to know how many people attend… I am about caring, loving, serving, creating and nurturing disciples and followers of Christ. This is my gift, and I am certain God has provided the other gifts here to keep this church running.”

Trust me, I have been where your pastor is Jeff, and I know the possible repercussions for that type of decision. The church might just fire him. If they do, then he will know he made the right decision. They didn’t want a pastor, they wanted someone to “run the church”. They wanted an “activities director”, a “social planner”, a “buildings supervisor”, a “fundraiser”… anything but a pastor.

This whole concept I have mentioned here and elsewhere has somewhat “threatened the status quo”. Many feel intimidated by this concept. Others feel scared by the possible outcomes. Why?

Pastors seem to feel threatened because many of them do not actually have the gift of pastoring. They entered into ministry to “reach their world for Christ” or build a “big church”. They had big visions of how they were going to “do church differently”. These have the gift of evangelism or leadership.

Some just loved speaking and love the process of studying God’s word and communicating. These have the gift of teaching. Some are gifted in fundraising, administration, encouragement and serving… but not shepherding. Functioning outside of our primary giftedness leads to frustration and fear.

The status quo in most evangelical American-type Christian churches that I have experienced is to hire a pastor to “run the church”. That’s a business model, not a biblical model. This model is still being adapted in even the most modern of church styles. To break free from that would change so many things. But it definitely isn’t the status quo.