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Shake ministry like a polaroid picture [Time Out]

Topic / Time Out

Time Out quiet times for the youth worker's soulTime Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Adam Wormann)

I love useless facts. They’re kind of helpful in Trivial Pursuit, but not much else, although in high school I won a lot of free stuff in random trivia games at youth group. Awesome stuff like plungers, rat traps, etc. But I also have the awesome knowledge of things that nobody cares about – like that mosquitoes have 47 teeth, scallops have 35 eyes, and bats can actually see very well, but still rely on sonar because they’re out at night and live in dark places. Today I learned that when you shake Polaroid pictures, it doesn’t help the picture to come any faster. I’m honestly not 100% sure if that’s true – I didn’t take the time to verify it – but I saw it on Twitter so I’m pretty sure it’s reliable (yes, kidding.).

I’m willing to bet though, that if you knew it was true, and it was still 1988 and you were using a Polaroid picture (you young kids may want to look here to see what they are so you understand, and in case it comes up in a random trivia game), you would still shake it, especially if you grew up shaking it. I don’t think I’ve ever used a Polaroid camera, but I still would mainly because standing there waiting for something to happen feels like a waste of time. You know something needs to be done, so you try anything to help. It’s like when you’re playing video games and keep pressing A (or X if you’re a PS3 person) while it’s loading, hoping that you can skip the load screen because it feels better than doing nothing. Or continually pressing the button at a crosswalk hoping it changes the traffic light to green sooner.

Enter the dangerous youth ministry comparison. We don’t want to wait for things to happen, we just want to do them. And even if something isn’t really necessary, we’ll do it because it feels like it’s helping. Really, we do things that aren’t quite effective all the time. It feels like it may meet a need. People have always told us this helps. We’d rather do something than do nothing. That’s not the way a healthy ministry works.

We have limits. Putting another program in place is not always the answer. In fact, we try to put lots of new things in place to help every perceived deficit in our ministries, and wind up with so much stuff that there’s an unhealthy balance. Kids are expected to do so much at the church, that they can’t spend time with family and friends that need them. We are at the church so much, that our families that need us don’t get us. And, all of it may not produce fruit anyway. It may just be another Polaroid picture.

More doesn’t equal better. Busy youth calendars does not necessarily equal better ministry. Do some things well, then set limits and balance – for your sake and your ministry’s.


Posted on June 20, 2011

  • You are correct in what you say about Polaroid film, shaking it doesn't speed it up. In fact, shaking it stands the chance of causing the emulsion that develops to make the film to get pushed around wrongly and cause parts to overdevelop or underdevelop. I have a polaroid with someone's thumb print developed over the photo because they held it too tightly when it developed. I guess that helps your analogy though, you can do lots of stuff to try and speed up the process, but that's more likely to wreck it than anything else.

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