Eating My Words About Youth Ministry

“I’m not made for youth ministry.”

“I can’t play the silly games.”

“I don’t know how to talk to kids.”

These are excuses I’ve made since I was in high school about why I could never go into youth ministry full-time. Even at that age, I hated the egg-smashing, oreo-cream-smearing, gallon-of-milk-chugging, and gluttonous-junk-food-consuming thing that I thought youth ministry was. I said I wanted substance, which Todd Laws happily delivered in Friday morning Bible Studies at Starvin’ Arvin’s. Of course, part of the reason I didn’t like the games was because I wasn’t good at them, I was afraid of getting messy, and all my friends already thought I was a dork – why prove them right? So when people like Andrea Howard told me in high school that I should consider youth ministry, I laughed.

Now, though, I’m being forced to reconsider.

Last night I spent a couple hours hanging out with the youth group at Northmont. Two things happened. First, an example of a game I enjoyed: There is a hyper-active sixth-grader named Nick who goes to Northmont’s youth group. He’s constantly bouncing off the walls and maintains a perpetual sugar high by chugging Pepsi and eating candy. Last night, when he started hitting me in the head with a pillow, I jokingly whined to Sean, the youth minister, “Sean, Nick’s picking on me.” The response came back, “So, hit him.” So I did. With a pillow of course. But it was hard enough to knock him over and we all, including Nick, busted up laughing. I did not know there were such simple pleasures in life.

Second, something of substance: Over our dinner of cheese pizza, Nick started complaining to me about the war in Iraq. Eventually he told me that he wanted to be Buddhist because he believes in peace. I told him Christians believe in peace, too – it’s a lot of what Jesus taught. He responded with, “But W. doesn’t believe in peace, and he says he’s a Christian.” Wow. There’s a lesson in that for us to learn about the witness our supposedly Christian nation sends not just to other countries but to youth as well. But what I want to focus on is the depth of his words. This sixth grader is well-aware of world events, aware of other religions, aware of Christian hypocrisy. An hour later, the discussion of the whole boys small group (middle and high school) turned to the war in Iraq and the guys voiced opinions from every position on the spectrum. This conversation about the ethics of war, basic theology and missiology, and the connection between the teachings of Jesus and teachings about Jesus, was deeper than any interaction I’ve had with the adult members of the church.

When I met Eileen at Starbucks later, I was beaming. She smirked, knowing that I enjoyed my time with the youth group – a prospect that months ago had intimidated the crap out of me. God’s doing a lot in my heart right now, and I’ve noticed it the most in the past couple days. It’s going to be interesting to see what will happen through the rest of the year. My next interaction with the youth is the “Harvest Day” activity on Sunday – maybe I’ll have more to share then. Praise God for the way His Spirit changes our hearts and transforms our lives.

  1. Brian said:

    HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!

    I TOLD YOU it would get into your blood and you wouldn’t be able to get out of it.

    HA HA HA!! (I’m done)

    See you Sunday at Harvest Day

  2. Sarah Louise said:

    Very cool. Hey, if you want to come take some of our hyper teens at the library, BEE MY GUEST!!!

    I once had a conversation like yours concerning W. about why I voted for Clinton (but he believes in abortion!) This was with a 5 or 6 year old. Out of the mouths of babes–they don’t miss a beat!!

    And this is your reminder to try lunch sometime at Adzemas.

    SL, another East Ender who also never imagined she’d be working with children in the North Hills

  3. Eileen said:

    Yeah but a note to you all – the “I like youth group children” did not last much longer… especially after an hour long bus ride with them screaming and throwing shoes at each other… Chris is now back to his normal “I could never do youth ministry” self…

    But I bet he will change his mind yet again in a few days… they do have a way of getting to you… :o)

  4. Anonymous said:


    On April 17, 2006, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board decided: “It’s time for an unapologetic Preston to go!”

    On October 13, 2006, Joe Preston continued to demonstrate a lack of remorse telling the editorial board that he, in fact, will not return the pay raise.

    It’s this simple: Mr. Preston is one of the lone symbols of this controversy who still believes a nod-nod, wink-wink from the Governor, local political leaders and the media can protect him from any further public ridicule.

    In short, Mr. Preston has recently demonstrated unprecedented arrogance suggesting an attitude and confidence that are embarrassing.

    Todd Elliott Koger For State Representative District 24

  5. Mike Demmon said:

    good to see you are doing good work bro!

    “W.” believes in peace. The enemy doesn’t.

    Wanna grab Chipotle in Robinson one of these days?

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