I love to know, listen, read, watch things in which I don’t agree with. I think it helps keep me out of a vacuum of only hearing what I agree with and helps me expand on what others who think and believe differently than I do. I listen to sermons but I also listen to Sam Harris. I listen to Christian leadership podcasts and I listen to Joe Rogan. I listen to Ben Shapiro but I also listen to Pod Save America. I read books from pastors and I read books from atheists. I think we all should. You are not effective in a vacuum.
So I put on the show Queer Eye just because I was curious and lots of people said it’s great just to have on in the background. And. I. Loved. It.
What is it? It’s a Netflix show and here is the description: A new Fab Five set out to Atlanta to help the city’s straight men refine their wardrobes, grooming, diet, cultural pursuits, and home décor.
Now the people who would be upset with me are probably the people who watch and justify watching Game of Thrones (cue my favorite joke right now: I can tell how devout of a Christian you are by what season of Game of Thrones you stopped watching at).
In our culture, this is not going away. More and more youth workers are going to have students in the LGBTQ community show up in their youth groups and this show is a good inside look into this culture and church culture. Whether we agree with it or not (I personally do not, but I love, appreciate, welcome and encourage that community to be a part of our community to come close to God… and the best part, they do!), it’s wise to know and be educated and take a look into it to better understand others.
I won’t lie, I was not about it at first but then I kept on watching, being dragged into the stories of the people, seeing the FAB5 interact with people they are doing a makeover with and I noticed and learned quite a few things in which youth workers should take note. As the seasons go on they highlight the main characters and you get to hear their stories and you get to hear about their interaction with broken families, broken friendships and broken relationships with the church. As I kept watching, I saw how these guys, cared, nurtured, listened and helped everyone who they interacted with. They helped gay people, straight people, Christian people, churches turn their lives around and gave them confidence and the resources they needed to be successful.
Sound familiar? A little bit?
Here is what I noticed and think youth workers can take notes on from the show:
- They were there to serve: The whole point of the show was to come in, take over and help the person get their life together in every aspect of their life. From home, looks, clothes, food, and culture. They came in with the goal to meet the needs in which were not being met and they did it in a fun way that motivated and did not demean those they were helping. How often do we as youth workers look at our jobs as, well…. jobs. In reality, we are here to serve our students in any way we can.
- They actually listened to people’s stories: As you watch, the stories in which why these certain people were being highlighted on the show came out. There was fear, frustration, adoption, religion, heartbreak and more and each time that highlighted person sat down with one of the FAB5, no matter the situation or background, they would listen, hold hands, cry with, empathize with while they were helping them out. It really was touching and genuine and it challenged me. How many times do we allow the programs to be more important than people? Have the next things to do, the next part of the service is coming, that next event to plan and we miss out on potentially great conversations with students.
- They helped them take practical steps and explain the WHY: The FAB5 would walk each person through their area they were in charge in, they would explain to them why they were picking out a certain style of clothing, face wash, furniture, meal for them to prep, walk them through the process together and then let them do it on their own at the end of the show at whatever event they were getting ready for. At the end of every episode, they would watch than the highlighted person doing all of the things they taught them to do. I mean, is this not what we are supposed to do in our teaching? Practical steps for students to know and experience God in a real way that could change their lives? And give them an opportunity to do it on their own, I.e. You Own The Night. The FAB5 of taking care of external things and we have something far greater and more powerful to begin to change people from the inside out. Sometimes we youth workers leave it at the 50,000-foot level ideas when students need it at 10 feet so they can take their first step tomorrow.
- They genuinely cared for those they were helping: The best part would be when the highlighted person would come out in their newly remodeled home and show the team their new look and clothing. The FAB5 would cheer, be in shock, encourage and compliment the person and you can tell there is a special moment. Then they would sit down in their new living room and the highlighted person would explain what the past week for them has meant to them and how these men have helped them through some tough times to give them confidence. Sometimes we get in the grind of the service planning and we forget about the real students who attend every week. You don’t? Wow. Let me be more like you. I know I can be more genuine in knowing and caring for students who are the EGR kids (Extra Grace Required kids) because guess what, they noticed when we are not genuine.
- They made people feel comfortable and welcomed: Having the FAB5 invade your home within the first few minutes of the meeting you would be overwhelming. My anxiety would shoot through the roof. But as they sat down with them, I was intrigued and noticed how welcoming and comfortable they would make the people feel as they were there to change everything about them to take them to the next level. I tell our leaders all of the time… our program should be the most welcoming place they experience all week long.
- They are openly encouraging: When they are done with each person, they all sit down and watch them in a living room doing all of the things they taught them that week. They are celebrating them in all the ways they’ve grown in their week with them. Do we celebrate Students enough in their growth?
- They loved and were open, honest, willing to help even though they did not agree with them: Now this is the big one. There were MANY people in which the person they would be helping were Christians. One episode they did a remodel of a community center of a church. And every single episode, you would hear from the FAB5 their experiences with the local church, the judgment they received, the words that were spoken to them and what they believed what God believed about them and my heart was broken. The episode in which they were redoing the church, the head designer refused to step foot inside. They would even ask these Christians what they thought of homosexuality and I was surprised and pleasantly shocked by the answers. It was what I was hoping to see. Yet these guys went into potentially hostile areas and dealt with people whom they disagreed with and felt hurt by, and still did all of the things I listed here in this post and they learned and appreciated and some healing and reconciliation happened. They were not shut off, distant or cold (which in all honestly, there I won’t lie to you, it was beautiful). This is what we as youth pastors for anyone who walks into our church for our services.
Do you NEED to watch it? No. Should you? Maybe. I think there is some great social commentary and vibes that our students are thrust into and it’s good for us to know about different ideas, cultures, and beliefs than ours because a lot of these stories relate and are a great look into what a lot of our students believe. I also think about how these men interact, how they are received and how people respond to them in reality, every youth worker wishes students responded to them.
I think that says a lot.
It’s good to be challenged and you can be challenged from all different places.
To listen to a great conversation about how to engage the LBGTQ community as youth workers, check out the below YOUTH MINISTRY HACKS episodes: