I love Youth Workers, we are a great gang of people, a special breed. And so I loved this past weekend hanging out with 3,000 of us.
One of the things I loved doing this past weekend was sitting on the sack chairs people watching. You notice the classic stereotypes of Youth pastors, and you see how they interact.
What I love about stereotypes is that for the most part, there is usually truth to them. If someone is stereotyping you as Lazy, what truth is there in that? What are you doing that would give them the hint of being lazy? It’s somewhat of the whole “Be above reproach” thing, that a lot of us youth pastors need to remember.
Having said that, I sterotyped a lot of youth pastors this weekend, and it kind of goes back to what I talked about in this post and this post at the beginning of the year.
There were some Youth Pastors who have been in youth ministry 5 years, and some Youth Pastors who have been in ministry 35 years who I would want to learn from, because they have GOOD experience. They have adapted, they have evaluated, they have seen what wasn’t working in their ministry and lives and changed it, and you can just tell. These guys are constant learners. They read books, they read blogs, they interact with other Youth pastors. They are life long learners and are therefore great teachers and mentors, and again, I have met Youth Pastors with tons of years of this as experience and Youth Pastors with 5 years of experience of doing this. And even though both of those have a lot to offer, neither would say they know everything about Youth Ministry.
But I also have met many Youth Pastors with 5 years or 35 years of BAD experience. It’s like these guys came out of bible school or seminary with this idea of how Youth Ministry looks, which is great, we all do, but then they get into ministry and they strive to get it to look like that picture of a perfect youth ministry they have in their mind, and they fail. But they keep trying it. They keep doing the same thing. And then they go to a conference and expect to find the answers to solve the problem as to why they can’t get their ministry to look how they want it to. And so you see these guys who sure, they have been in ministry for years and years, but they don’t have experience that really counts for anything, because they aren’t learning from their failures.
Why? Most likely, because they aren’t willing to take risks, they aren’t willing for failure to be an option. Further, even if they can say “failure is an option, its ok” they most likely aren’t willing to admit it when they do fail. And I don’t think its because of pride, (sure pride comes out in that, but thats not the root issue).
I can’t sit here and tell you what makes one Youth Pastor have good experience and another Bad. I don’t know the answer to why some of us are willing to learn from our mistakes and seek to improve and others of us are fighting so hard to get this one, broken system to work.
But I know we need to change. Our Churches deserve better. Our students deserve better. God deserves better.
So really evaluate, however many years of experience you have, are they good years of experience? Or do you have 10 years of the same year, because you haven’t changed or adapted.