UPDATE: Please read the comments below. This is not a serious post. It’s satirical sarcasm and does not contain a hint of truth. It’s a joke written by the founder of Youth Specialties describing in exact opposite terms what NOT to do. Do NOT run your youth ministry this way! This is written to such an extreme in order to point out the absurdity of running a youth ministry this way. It’s only a joke. Please don’t take this seriously or think that this is my personal philosophy of ministry. It definitely is NOT.
Ten Easy Steps to Guarantee a Successful Youth Ministry!
by Mike Yaconelli
1. Dumb Down the Gospel. Employ attractive phrases such as, “Since I’ve known Jesus I’m happier, getting better grades, and captain of the football team!” Even better, reduce the complexity of the gospel into group cheers (i.e., “Give me a J!”) or simple worship choruses like, “God is so good…blah blah blah.” (Try singing those words in Ethiopia.) Or even better, try out some hip slang (i.e., God is “phat”; Jesus is a “hottie”).
2. Count. Constantly make everyone aware of your group’s attendance figures and the increases in attendance. Make numbers an issue by setting attendance goals for each activity and reward the group for reaching those goals. Spend lots of time throwing pies at the leaders if goals are reached.
3. Put Your Students on Display. As soon as kids become Christians or rededicate their lives or show real growth, put them in front of the group and have them share their testimonies—especially if they’re physically attractive. Let young people talk about their faith as much as possible and don’t worry about the fact that most young people have no clue how complicated and rough the real world is with or without Jesus.
4. Don’t Allow Down Time. Hey, kids today are MTV kids! They can’t sit still for any length of time. Silence, solitude, prayer, meditation, fasting? All totally lame in the eyes of this generation! Nope, keep ’em busy, active, noisy, and shuttling from one Christian rock concert to another. Fill every moment of your program with something to do—otherwise you’ll lose their attention (which would be disastrous because then they’d have to pay attention to God and their souls).
5. Stay on the Technological Cutting Edge. What would Jesus do? Are you kidding? Jesus would have the best sound system you ever heard, along with a DVD player, the Internet, instant messaging, the coolest Web site, and of course a digital TV. Show your kids that when it comes to the latest technology, Christians are right there! I mean, who needs to read when you can watch?
6. Create Celebrities. Make sure your young people get an earful and eyeful of the latest Christian music stars, video stars, and NFL players who profess their faith in Jesus on national television. Encourage your young people to worship, idolize, and live under the illusion that these people are somehow better, deeper, more Christian, more together, and more dedicated than them. Let them believe that the marketed images of these celebrities are completely representative of them—even though you know it isn’t true.
7. Let Youth Group Take the Place of Church. Oh sure, encourage your kids to attend the contemporary service—even though you know most of them never will because church is “boring,” filled with “dull, old people,” and the music “sucks.” Whatever you do, though, don’t suggest that worshiping with people they don’t like and connecting with people who are older and wiser just might save them when their adolescent view of the world is shattered. Just keep convincing your students that youth group is a good substitute for church.
8. Tow the Parental Line. Whatever you do, don’t cause friction with parents by suggesting to their kids that grades, SAT scores, financial security, college degrees, and athletic scholarships really don’t matter. Just accept the fact that most parents want their children to attend youth group as long as it doesn’t interfere with hockey, football, ice skating, tennis, ballet, or baseball practice. And don’t encourage young people to resist their parents’ attempts to smother the call of God on their lives, either. After all, you could get fired!
9. Ignore the Arts. Never encourage painting, dance, sculpture, writing, poetry, ballet, or trips to the museum, symphony, and opera. Stick with activities that rock! The WWF rules!
10. Live in the Now! Verify the success of your ministry by visible, measurable, observable results you see now. Don’t waste your time worrying about lasting results. Who can wait?! Go for the instant return. Hey, once your kids leave youth group, you aren’t responsible for what happens to them anyway, right?
11. “Us” Versus “Them.” (Yeah, yeah, I know I said “Ten Steps”—sue me.) Convince your kids that the only way Christians can make a difference is through public, physical confrontation with the “world.” Explain that this “world” is “them,” and Christians—the good guys—are “us.” And since it’s us against them, we have to “stand up for our faith.” Encourage them to march in rallies, wear slogan-filled T-shirts, hang banners, and do whatever it takes to get in the world’s face. Convince them that the Devil and his demons are running around, wreaking havoc—and the only way to deal with the Devil is to confront and “bind him.” Don’t let them believe that evil is much more seductive, much more camouflaged and tricky than they could ever imagine. And whatever you do, don’t start getting into Jesus’ strategy of powerlessness.
Now go get ’em!
Posted on December 11, 2006