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I hate these conversations

#1. Adult: “Oh, you work with teenagers. That’s nice. So, how long are you gonna do that before you start a career?” (Translation: Youth ministry is a job for people in their 20s who aren’t sure what they wanna do with their life.)

#2. Parent: “Susan can’t come to Bible study because you scheduled them for Wednesday nights when she has soccer.” (Translation: My daughter’s athletic development is a higher priority than her spiritual development, so why can’t youth group fit in when there’s nothing better going on?)

#3. Property manager: “We need to paint a couple rooms in the church and the lawn needs to be mowed. I don’t have time to do it, so I figured we could let the youth do it.” (Translation: Even though there’s many other people in the congregation who aren’t plugged in to any ministry, the youth are an easy source of free labor.)

#4. Sr. Pastor: “We don’t see you enough in the church office. You need to be here more often and get work done instead of playing basketball and Xbox with the kids.” (Translation: I’m secretly jealous of your job.)

#5. Volunteer: “The problem with this youth ministry is that the kids are disrespectful and won’t listen to me teach them! We need to teach them more about respecting authority.” (Translation: My teaching doesn’t connect with the kids and I’m taking it personally. Train them to be puppets.)

#6. Student: “So what does a youth pastor do all day?” (Translation: Your Halo skills “pwn” mine, so you must do nothing but practice all day while I’m in school.)

Any others to add to to the list?


Posted on July 24, 2007

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  • Nothing frustrates me more than a church going parent who grounds their children from youth Bible study! It makes me want to scream!

  • tombilderback

    Just happened! A few of the skater kids got saved we prayed for and now I cater to skaters!?!? Before it was you spend too much time on bad bad kids and not enough on good bad kids , and when I go to two a day ball practice I guess it will be athletes preferred. cant win for losing…. oh welll i could be in trouble for worse.

  • Here are some real ones I have had:

    Pastor: "If you try to oppose me, we will see who will win."

    (Translation: Don't disagree with me, especially in public.)

    Pastor: "I know we talk a lot about grace, but when it comes to our staff, it is performance, not grace."

    (Translation: I don't really believe all the nice words I say in the pulpit.)

    Parent: "My son (or daughter) doesn't really get anything out of your teaching."

    (Translation: My kid doesn't think you are cool enough to learn from." Not always true, but it was in this case.)

    Parent: "I would really like to be involved in leading a group, but only if it is my own kid's group."

    (Translation: I am really controlling and co-dependant with my kids and I am not sure I trust anyone else to teach. Basically I fell threatened by most people.")

    Teen: "Chuck Norris likes Mondays because if he didn't, then there wouldn't be any."

    (Translation: Chuck Norris likes Mondays because if he didn't, then there wouldn't be any.)

  • Adult: “You just got a new televsion and you have a new pair of shoes on all the time?” (Translation: You are a youth pastor, you aren’t suppose to have nice stuff.)

  • Tim

    lol! Nice, Dustin.

  • Parent: “I grounded my teen from youth group.”

    Translation: ?!?! Maybe “I don’t feel like coming out to church for a month.” or “There’s nothing left to take away from my teen except things related to spirituality.” or “They’re too old for spankings.” (kidding).

    I don’t know.

  • I just had this one!

    Parent: We can't go to church as a family with the high school ministry meeting at night.

    Translation: I can't get my teenager out of bed to make the 11 am service and I thought the high school ministry was a teenage sitting service while I go to church.

  • Tim

    Senior Pastor: Hey, ah, our numbers are down for youth group (during the summer), so we want to know what you are doing to “boost” these numbers.

    Translation: Numerical growth (synonymous for “spiritual growth” for some) equals BETTER PAY CHECK and JOB SECURITY.

    (Hey, relational ministry SHOULD be easy for you, I mean, we BUILT A SWEET YOUTH ROOM! Why aren’t they coming?)

  • Carol

    Oh good, the teenage girls came to the womens meeting? Great, We need someone to babysit the kids and watch the nursery for us.

    This after months of trying to get the girls to come to any event at church along with youth group.

    Oh well.

  • This one is usually well-intentioned, but it bothers me every time:

    “The youth are the future church”

    Um, so they aren’t actually part of the Body of Christ now? Yeah, I’m touchy.

  • Chair of Personnel Committee (in absence of a pastor): “You need to be in the office by 8:30 each morning. Work ethic is important.”

    Translation: I’m not really tuned into the fact that you were out past 10:00 the past three nights doing youth activities, but I need to show you who’s boss around here.

    But I’m not bitter.

  • roy

    so many of these resonate and make me smile, then cry and then laugh. You just gotta love youth ministry, a great place to be!!

  • Chris

    Parent: You want me to volunteer to help with the youth on Sunday? What are we paying YOU for?

    First, you BARELY pay me, and then secondly, you complain about there not being enough adult supervision on events, and third, you were one that voted on the Safe Sanctuary policy for our church that says for every six youth we need one adult chaperone. Basically what these parents are saying is we want a quality youth program, but we don’t want to be pushed out of our comfort zone by helping out with time and money.

  • Love it…absolutely love it…I cried and laughed at the same time. Man reading and blogging have so helped me stay connected. Love the Chuck Norris quote….thanks for posting such a great blog post.

  • Tim

    Yeah, these are great! I love all the ones you guys have added. :)

  • My best friend, also a YM, had someone say this to him a few weeks ago…

    “Are you employed by Camp XXXXXXX now?”

  • G-ma Betty

    WOW you guys have heard it all.. and your hidden meanings are so funny…. and TOO TRUE !!!
    We’re glad it’s our Father we please…and He knows what the youth need.. as well as us..
    Glad He gives us JOY in serving kids that need DIRECTION and LOVE.
    How they need you !! regardless of excuses/laziness/of parents..
    Hangeth in there!!

  • Parent: “Why don’t you do bible trivia with the kids instead of teaching the bible like the last guy did?”

    Translation: “I really don’t like the fact you’re treating my son/daughter like a person who is going to be an adult soon. I’d rather you treat him/her like he was still in middle school because I have a problem with letting my child grow up.”

  • All real conversations I have had in the past 8 months…

    Pastor: This is a Youth Space first, then community.
    Translation: This is a youth space… unless a friend of the church has money to pay us to use it… then find somewhere else.

    Pastor: The church has to have one vision. And it has to be my vision as the senior pastor.
    Translation: The vision I invited you to cast for our youth is making me uncomfortable, so remember that I am the boss.

    Student: I’m not being challenged enough at group time.
    Translation: I would rather spend time with my boyfriend

    Student: I was planning on coming, but then i fell asleep
    Translation: I would rather spend time with my boyfriend

    Pastor: This is a space for teens
    Translation: Stay in your classroom and don’t have any drinks or food in your room.

    and the one that took the cake for me…

    Pastor: This church is extremely committed to the youth and wants to see them involved.
    Translation: We want our teens to be perfectly behaved, and content with whatever we as older adults do and not offer them anything that catches them where they are at… that is your job during your time with them.

  • thats a funny post because i was listening to the “Youth Ministries” podcast posted by Covanant Semanary and all your cooments sounded like they came directly from the podcast, translations and all! Maybe you could teach the class when their professor is gone :-)

  • Tim

    @ David: Really? I should finish listening to that series then. Sounds fun!

  • Senior Pastor : I am really committed to young people being involved in our meetings together

    Translation : I would really like the young people to become mini me’s. As long as their contributions are smaller versions of what we already do then that’s fine

    Parent : … Anything that follows (in a particular tone of voice and context)…. “have you ever thought about …”

    Translation : I secretly think that I could do your job better than you but don’t want to commit to it, so instead I’m going to make suggestions about things you’re not already doing that I think you should

    Finally, one of the young people I work with last week said to me “so Claire, what is your job? I mean what do you do that you get paid for?” … he had no idea of the hidden depths there were to that question!

  • Tim

    Here’s one I got a lot while I was interviewing at churches last year and just came up in a conversation with someone:

    Youth pastor search committee: “What’s your plan for keeping graduating seniors in church after high school?” (Translation: What’s your plan for keeping graduating seniors in OUR church after high school?)

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  • Jeff

    Pastor: How would you like to schedule a "youth sunday?"

    Translation: I will be out of the pulpit again and need someone to cover for me.

    Parent: What time does youth fellowship start?

    Translation: I haven't yet noticed that it has been the same time for the past 8 years.

  • "If we can get the kids to come, we'll get their parents."

    Translation: Your youth program is effective while our adult programs suck beyond belief.

  • Chris

    That happened in our church – we had some families start coming because of the youth programs – but because the adult programs “suck” they didn’t stay long. Some how this has become my fault.

    The kids still come, though.

  • Tim

    Ex-church member: “God told me to leave your church and go to ______ church instead.” (Translation: I’m tired of your church and you can’t confront me about it if I over-spiritualize my decision and make it out to be God’s fault.)

  • Ehjae

    Parents of Kids who rarely come: We want you to keep the youth meeting on Fridays because that's when kids party, and we don't want our kids to be partying.

    Translation: Youth group is free babysitting. You must cater to our children even if we don't make youth group a priority.

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