This blog is in response to http://timschmoyer.com Common mistakes to avoid in youth ministry : 100 blog topics I hope you write.
Oh where to begin. Looking at the different blog topics, this topic really struck a nerve with me. My first thought was, “man, I could tell you about mistakes, I come up with new ones all the time!” If there is a wrong way to do things, I believe I have experienced it. So here are some common mistakes as well as some new ones to avoid in youth ministry.
Mistake # 1.
Do it all yourself. Plan all the activities, come up with the lessons, teach the lessons, make sure the youth room is clean and ready, prepare the games and all the components for the games, Plan the mission trips, prepare all the food, forms, and keep up with the money for the trips, handle all counseling and mentoring with the youth, and anything else that comes up, be sure to take charge of that as well and you will soon die from exhaustion !
Point out all the bad behavior in their lives. Youth are the most horrible people on the planet. Most of them smoke, use drugs, drink, cuss, lie, gossip, fight, and generally smell bad. By pointing out all their flaws, they will see how righteous you are and generally never come back to your events again.
Focus on the Media, not the Scriptures. Kids love powerpoint, and cute little video clips of movies and commercials that they’ve seen a hundred times. Oh yeah they love sound effects. Fill your allotted time for lessons with these and use scripture only to prove the moral behind the story in the movie or commercial. A good lesson will include 20 minutes of media for 4 minutes of bible teaching. This really prepares their heart for the behavioral change.
Don’t let non-Christians go on your trips. It’s ok if non-Christian youth want to come to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, because that’s where their supposed to be. But by no means should they be allowed to go on ski trips, mission trips, or any other trip that may be planned for the youth. God will save them, but we would rather He did it at church.
Yell at them. Naturally their hearing is ruined by all of the ipods and mp3 players they’re constantly listening to. Yell at them to get their attention. Yell at them when they’re misbehaving. Generally speaking if you want to motivate them, you have to yell.
Have at least 100 rules for them to follow. Come up with a list of rules, at least a 100, for them to follow. Require them to memorize them, live by them, and scold and embarrass them with they break one of them. This system worked well for the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.
Do not make yourself available away from the church. When you are not at the church, your time is precious and you should avoid keeping in touch with the youth. Youth become easily attached to such great role models, and you have more important things to do. Don’t show up at their school events or extracurricular activities, because this only feeds a sense that you care. You are their youth pastor/leader, not their parent or friend. Make it clear to them that if they need to get in touch with you, you are available on Sundays and Wednesdays only. Besides you’re not getting paid for this.
I am stopping here with these 7 common mistakes in youth ministry. It seemed like a good heavenly number. I have not personally made all of these mistakes… yet. Sadly, I have made too many. These are, however some of the more common mistakes I have seen in youth ministry through the years. This blog topic could also be called “ 7 ways to kill your ministry”. I know that my ministry has taken a hit in the past because of some of these mistakes, but through the grace of God and a very Godly mentor, restoration has been able to take place, and God is working through us.
Oh yeah, I just thought of something. We’ll call this the “Bonus Mistake”.
Don’t Pray. Praying takes up all your time. It takes away from finding all those media clips, and sound effects. It also takes away from planning all of the activities and trips. Pray for yourself and your ideas, that God would see it “your way”. Don’t bother wasting time praying for the youth, because their parents are doing it for them anyway.