Alicia and I get hooked on television shows (Duck Dynasty, Hoarders, Clean House) and thanks to Netflix we have the ability to watch shows that we missed the boat on. Even thought we missed out on the whole series of Lost, we were still able to watch it online. One show that I often watch on my days off is Monk. The show is about a former detective with debilitating OCD tendencies. Most of us like order, to some extent, but this guy is bad. Monk brings his own sheets to a hotel, a suitcase full of sierra springs bottled water, and the list goes on and on.
The show follows Monk as he’s contracted out on cases to help the police solve problems that they never would be able to on their own. The thing about Monk, is he notices things that no normal person would notice and that is exactly what makes him the best. Monk has an attention to detail that is unparalleled. Monk will notice one thing out of place, that in turn helps to solve the crime and put the bad man behind bars.
I would love to sit and chat television with you all day, but there is a point that I want to make. The reason that Monk is able to solve the crime is because he makes sure that every detail is attended to and I think we could use a little more of that in youth ministry. If you are anything like me, I get completely frustrated with unprofessional youth pastors who do a half-effort job. The thing is, these youth pastors give every professional youth pastor out there a bad name. Even if I work hard to be as professional as possible, people will always have their preconceived notions of what a youth pastor is.
I would ask that all of you who are involved in youth ministry would strive to a level of professionalism that would change the view of youth pastors in ministry. We all wonder why people ask when we are going to grow up and be a “real” pastor and the reason is, because people don’t view youth pastors as professionals. By taking a cue from Monk, I would ask you to pay attention to detail. Take the first step toward changing the church world’s perspective of the professional, detail oriented, youth pastor.
There’s something about August and September that is invigorating for me. People are acquiring school supplies. Stores are dishing out sales like it’s candy. Sports camps are starting practice. College students are moving in and out of the area. Businesses are getting busier. Football is getting back in swing. Fall is about to arrive.
I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year almost as much as I love the fall (aka football season). Similar to the New Year, everyone gets a new start. This is especially true for students, whether they’re on their way to a new school or not. What happened last year was erased by the summer, and everyone has done a whole 3 months of growing up, at least a little bit. New topics are introduced. New sports are attempted. New friendships are formed. And new memories are made.
So how does this all relate to student ministry?
Well, since this is the environment in which all students function, our ministries should be a reflection of this energy. We need to know where our students are at, and respond in fashion. Capitalize on the energy a new school year brings and harness it in such a way that encourages your students to strive for an ever-growing and ever-improving relationship with God.
Your, my, and our teens’ relationships with God will always have ups and downs. Make sure to teach this to your students! Don’t let them buy into the myth that healthy relationships with God are full of mountain-tops, though there are many. If they believe this then they will quickly get discouraged and throw in the towel on God, and that is the last thing that we want for them. Fall may very well be a “high” for them because of the energy of the season, but valleys quickly follow. Following God is often a difficult, strenuous journey, and Christ made that very clear when He told us we’d have to take up His cross to follow Him.
Fall is no doubt one of the busiest times of the year. Not only are sports super active and exciting, but before you know it you’ll be hit with the holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years back-to-back-to-back. I say that to give you caution. Our teens are incredibly busy. I was too when I was their age, but it only gets busier as new generations come. Please keep this in mind when you are strategically scheduling events. Maybe that means you should schedule time in your families and ministries to have some “down time”. Spend time building personal, deep relationships, not merely filling their calendars.
I hope you are all excited for the Fall season as I am! I also hope these reminders about some of the exciting and dangerous things about the season will help keep you focused. Now get out there, get pumped, and love on some teens!