I recently had a wonderful opportunity to attend a conference at a seminary in our great state of Kentucky. Wonderful time! I was blessed with being able to listen to such youth ministry giants as Dr. Jim Burns, Wayne Rice, Walt Mueller, and Mark DeVries. Also the worship artist was phenomenal. The seminary had revamped their old youth ministry conference and made more of a focus on youth and family ministry.
When I was pondering my breakout session I knew I wanted to take Mark DeVries “Sustainable Youth Ministry” session. That my friends is a wonderful book and the session was even better. When I was trying to figure out who to take my second session under the thought popped into my head that I wanted to take one under a professor at the seminary. I’m continuing my own education by attending Truett-McConnell College online and was pondering this institution as a place to attend for my Masters.
I will not say the names to protect the innocent, but that class was a mistake. But a good mistake in a sense that it gave me a blog topic. Never claim to know anything about youth ministry! As you can see from my explanation of my blog I do NOT know anything about youth ministry. I just provide random thoughts from a youth minister in the trenches. But if you start off a class with “I’m a youth ministry EXPERT” your pompous. No one is a youth ministry expert. By the time we reach the level that would be considered an expert in any field the culture changes and we are behind the times. The professor then proceeded to inform us that youth ministers need to be professionals. AMEN brother! But then his next statement was ridiculous. He said we needed to dress like the guidance counselors and teachers at the students schools. Then he proceeded to tell me that unless the teachers at the students school worn a faddish haircut like mine that I needed to cut my hair. Wow! Ok I don’t have much hair left so I’ll keep what I have thank you very much!
But this leads me to my point. Be yourself! I’m not the school teacher type. Obviously this gentleman is. But if I was to show up to youth group in a pair of slacks and a polo shirt the kids would not more want to listen to me than a teacher. Not because I look like one of their teachers but because they know that’s not who I really am. They want authenticity! They want you to be real and be who you are. They want to see you live the life Christ called you to live. For me that’s a faux hawk hair cut, Toms shoes, boot cut jeans, and T-Shirts. I’m the type of person that, despite my age, I’m still young at heart. I PRAY that when I’m 70 years old I’m still a youth minister in some capacity and I will probably be wearing a t-shirt and blue jeans to youth group. I’m not discouraging you from wearing polo shirts, etc. I have many youth minister friends who dress like that and are absolutely effective. It’s because they dress like that all the time and it fits their personality.
Do not ever claim to know everything in youth ministry because you found out what works for you. It probably won’t work for others. But please DO share your helpful advice on what works for you so that other youth ministers can glean from your ideas and apply the working principles to their own ministry in a way that works for them, which is what I PRAY I accomplish with my blog. Do not change who you are to fit a youth ministry stereotype. Until next time my friends. Be yourself and just keep swimming.