Friday, January 11, 2008

    Emergency Room Youth Ministry?

    The other day I came across an article in the New Yorker entitled: The Checklist. In a nutshell, the article claims that a basic “Checklist” can drastically improve your chances of survival in the ER. Some of the great difficulties of emergency room medicine are that doctors and nurses get in a hurry, become over-confident, and fail to do some very basic, yet significantly important procedures, such as properly sterilizing a catheter, when in a rush. By following basic, elementary procedures, your chance of survival, and likelihood of avoiding infection in the ER, greatly increases.

    So, you may be asking: How does this relate to youth ministry? The answer is that youth ministry, while not often dealing with life or death situations, does have extremely similar parallels. In youth ministry, we attempt, through a variety of different “procedures” to change the lives of our youth. Sometimes, we get over confident. Sometimes, we get in a hurry. Sometimes, we overlook the very basic gifts of youth ministry that called us into this particular ministry to begin with. If you had to develop a basic checklist for your youth ministry, what would it look like? In no particular order, this is what I came up with. I hope you will each add your own responses:

    • Learn the names of your youth
    • Develop relationships
    • Visit youth in their own settings
    • Utilize parents and volunteers
    • Focus on spirituality, not entertainment
    • Pray often
    • Pray with your youth
    • Create youth leaders
    • Take mission trips
    • Involve youth in planning, preparation, and fundraising of mission trips
    • Have Bible studies
    • Seek the truth, even when it is uncomfortable
    • Foster good communication with youth, parents, and everyone involved with the youth program
    • Do not overlook the importance of your own family
    • Take time for self-care
    • Go to conferences, particularly conferences that might make you uncomfortable
    • Read good books
    • Be yourself
    • Realize you will not connect with all of your youth, but it is important to find individuals who can help you connect with all of the youth
    • Evangelize—I use to be uncomfortable with this word, but now understand it as a key component of youth ministry
    • Worship
    • Be creative
    • Recognize that not everything will work