Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    The Biggest Mistakes I've Made in Youth Ministry - Part 1

    What are the worst mistakes you can make in youth ministry? Here are a few suggestions:

    1) Posting Youth Group attendance numbers in the church newsletter - This may seem like a good idea when you've got a ton of kids coming. But when the number takes an ocassional dip, as it inevitably will do from time to time, you "got some 'splainin' to do." Not to mention, posting these sorts of numbers just communicates that you think it's the size of the ministry, not the quality, that counts.

    2) Playing "kiddie" versions of college chug-a-lug games - Early in my career, I came across a game in a youth ministry book that looked like fun. The directions said to attach pieces of rubber tubing to the mouth of several 2-liter bottles of soda and then invite several students to compete to see who could be first to drink their entire two-liter through the tube while the bottle is held above their heads (imagine an IV-drip attached to a hospital patient). The time I tried this, one teen realized it was just for fun and let the soda pour out of her mouth and all over her shirt. But the other teen, a boy who was visiting that night, really made an attempt to drink the entire bottle through the tube. He drank about half the bottle when he discovered that all that carbonation was too much and he promptly puked up on the church parking lot. It was not too long after that when I discovered that this game is actually a non-alcoholic version of a fraternity drinking game! Yes, I was naive and innocent. No, we never played that game again. Yes, that boy did actually come back to youth group for another visit! No, I never told his parents about the little "incident" on the parking lot!

    3) Assuming parents won't mind if youth group runs 15 minutes late - They do mind--they mind enough to come and yank their child out right in the middle of closing worship! So much for "Go in Peace." Punctuality goes a long way in fostering good youth minister-parent relations.