Five Unconventional Things To Love About Youth Ministry

All the great reasons for getting involved in youth ministry (you know– students drawing near to God, talking about Jesus, playing games involving fish) aren’t the only things that we love about it.  Here are five unconventional things that make it so endearing:

1.  Brutal Honesty.

Youth ministry lacks the certain “sugar-coating” of social sensitivity you might expect in other parts of the church.  If your choice of metaphor is weak, students will interrupt your lesson to inform you.   If students disagree with you, they don’t nod their heads politely.  If your nails need a trimming, they will let you know.  But who wants to spend all their time beating around the bush anyway?

2.  Fearing What You Do.

Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” -Jesus.  It is a funny thing to see your words, mannerisms, and social tics coming from your students, but realizing that ministry is about imitation, that fully trained students will be like their teachers, and students have you as a model for Christ is enough to make anyone a little bit fearful.  But fear is part of the fun– that’s why we have theme parks.

3.  Growth Spurts.

Many communities stay relatively the same, but youth ministry isn’t one of them.  Even if it’s simply getting braces, or growing a foot taller, or transitioning from one school to the next, sometimes witnessing any change in church can be refreshing.

4.  Rocking the Boat.

Youth ministers can get away with strange things in board meetings.  Maybe it comes from exposure to #1, but they can point at the elephant in the room without fearing repercussion.  They can afford to be crazy, sometimes even offensive; people will either listen to their great ideas, or forgive them for their immaturity.  Best of both worlds.

5.  Stuff Students Say.

Parents are always saying their “kids say the darnedest things,” but anyone involved in youth ministry knows students have a corner on that market.  Here are only a few of the things we’ve heard from our students in the past year. Enjoy.

  • Real men don’t have purses; real men carry wallets full of cash.”
  • “Professor Snape (from the Harry Potter series) is so attractive.”
  • Me: “I think a cell phone tower is down.”
    Jr. High Student: “Why?”
    Me: “My cell phone says ‘roaming.'”
    Jr. High Student: “Maybe it’s roaming Connecticut, trying to find a nice cabin to have a merry Christmas.”
  • “I giggled when you said ‘burn children’”
  • “Yams… potatoes in disguise.” (sung to the theme of Transformers)
  •  “My dog died, and we ate Chinese food.”
  •  “My low last week was kicking a kick ball and hitting the girl I like in the head.  My high was that she told me she knew I didn’t mean to.”
    Professor Severus Snape
    Professor Snape

Allen Marshall O'Brien

Allen Marshall O’Brien is the pastor of a UCC church in Northern California and co-host of the Irenicast. He believes in the importance of education, peace, and ecology, throws things to his border collie Sonata, and writes for multiple platforms.

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  • “growing a foot” is a lovely image.

  • so very, painfully, true! ha!

  • Dr. Towel