Last week, I wrote a post called, “things I’ve learned in ministry.” The idea to write one post led me to the realization that it would probably take several posts to tell you all of the things I didn’t learn in school. Since I already set up the premise of this post last week, let’s just jump right in.
5. You will not always have enough time to write a well thought out and prepared lesson.
That sounds scary, huh? Sometimes the youth pastor will have to teach on a Sunday or Wednesday night with little to no preparation. That doesn’t happen to me here, but it was a way of life in the past. In some church settings, the lead pastor can make himself unavailable to study for Sunday, but the youth pastor cannot do the same for Wednesday. There were times when I wasn’t allowed any time to study, because people had me doing too many other things. I had to adapt. If I had known the insanity that awaited me, I probably would have stocked up on lessons and had them at the ready. I didn’t know, so I adapted on the fly. By the time I left my first post, my schedule was so hectic that I had started writing my lessons for Wednesday night while the pastor preached on Sunday morning and evening. It was that or teach a 5 minute lesson and play dodge ball for the rest of the time every Wednesday night. I don’t do that anymore, though. I have more regular office hours that allow me to do what I was hired to do, and the only reason I would ever miss what Dave or Todd is teaching is children’s ministry. But I do like the way they teach, so if I miss on Sunday morning, I listen to the podcast.
6. Games that involve drinking large quantities of pop and then running are a bad idea, especially after all you can eat pizza.
Go to any youth pastor resource website, and you will find hundreds of gross games, and I think hundreds is a conservative guess. I do like gross games, but I don’t like the ones that are gross due to excess and the likelihood of causing instant vomiting. There are three staples at most youth events: excessive amounts of pizza, a swimming pool’s worth of pop, and at least one kid that doesn’t know when to say when. It is a bad idea to have any staged games after you’ve unleashed them on pizza, and it’s even worse to have that game involve more pop and running. I learned my lesson when I had such a game at my first church. The only parts of the game I remember were the ones that involved chugging a 20 oz pop and running the length of the gym to throw your bottle away. The winner threw his bottle away while running past the trash can and onward into the bathroom. He proceeded to give back like no philanthropist before him. I still love and appreciate that kid, though, because I didn’t know about his episode until after he had mopped up his own mess.
7. Do not work at a church that runs a Christian school unless you want to teach.
Lesson learned. I am not called to teach elementary school, and I am not equipped to teach it. I never wanted to do it, either. Now, I can teach the Bible to elementary students, which I ended up doing, but I cannot teach gym. I am not the guy that should teach your children what it means to be physically fit. I also had very little experience working with young kids, so I acted around them like I would around a teenager. I spoke to them like I would a teenager. There was a list of naughty words that could not be said, and short of the actual swear words that you and I already know, I think I said just about all of them. I think I added to the list. The Jeff Selph addendum added words like “punk and chump” to an already lengthy list. I now know that you cannot tell your Bible class full of 5th and 6th grade students that they will now be running the entire gym class, because they have been acting like chumps for the entire Bible class.
8. Make a change, make an enemy (or two, or three, or several).
I probably wasn’t taught this in school, because some of the professors I had were still teaching the same lesson plans they taught thirty years previous, and they did not like the idea of change any more than the average church goer. I think it’s fair to say that some of them liked it even less. I guess I should have gleaned this lesson from my days in youth group, when I witnessed it firsthand. Well, I didn’t learn my lesson then, and I have made changes everywhere I have gone. Now that I’ve learned this lesson, I still make make changes, but I make them with the understanding that someone will be upset, so I’d better really believe in the changes I’m making. Why set yourself up for attack over a change that you’re not even 100% sold on?
Okay, chickadees, that’s it for this week. Maybe we can reconvene next Wednesday with more lessons learned.