It seems like just yesterday I was starting out in youth ministry and that was over ten years ago now. Looking back at the last 10+ years I realized I am someone who embraces the new, yet still holds on to things that are old and hold value.
- Music: I prefer only two formats: Digital and Vinyl. I still have the same turntable I had growing up and I find it to be the only physical format of music worth owning. I look ahead by listening to the digital format as well. Plus, most new records come with a free mp3 download card
- Videogames: I have a new PS4 (sorry JG, it is the far superior of next gen systems, sorry JG) [JG note: boooooooo], and I still have my original Nintendo that I still play and yes still purchase used games for.
- Vehicles: my wife and I have a newer Subaru but I also drive (when it’s running) a 1971 VW Bus.
So this got me thinking…. What are some of the things in youth ministry that we push forward on, and what should we also look back to? I am not talking about things like flannel graph, clip art, or the famous YS Hot Seat game that nobody should ever play again. What I am talking about are things with lasting value.
Here are a few I thought of….
- Resources: Some great books continue to be written about youth ministry and how it is changing within our culture, however, some of the best books on youth ministry are timeless and were written a while back. For me this would be Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry by Doug Fields. I read this book about once a year.
- How We Spend Our Day: So much of youth ministry, when not spent with students, seems to be spent at a desk in front of a computer. What did youth pastors do before computers? My guess is that it may have been easier to spend more time praying for students, volunteers and parents, and studying scripture. Once every two weeks I try to have a workday with no computer or phone ruling over me. I find that I make more time for prayer, scripture, and connecting with people in my ministry.
- Communication: I remember how hard it was when I first started out to make phone calls to parents and students. Now we have great technology that lets us Facebook or text people. While this is a great communication tool, I have found that I still get a better response and better relational ministry when I call someone the good old-fashioned way. Even beyond that, I have some students who have held onto hand-written, snail-mail letters from their small group leaders all the way through college.
So what are some “old” principles of youth ministry that still hold value today?
Kevin Klas has been in youth ministry for 10 years. He is currently the director of student ministries at Lake City Community Church in Lakewood, WA.