I was watching The Voice on NBC last week and found myself really enjoying it and laughing a lot, not as common when watching TV these days. I thought, “Why am I laughing so much?” Then it hit me that I was captivated by how much fun the four judges were having together and how much they seemed to be enjoying each other. Most reality shows feature arguing since producers think conflict and snippy judges make for interesting TV. This year Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and new judges Usher and Shakira (who is other-worldly popular among the four judges, illustrated by her 20+ million Twitter followers) really like each other – and you could tell it. It was like a bright light on TV and Twitter lit up about how much fun it was to watch the show because of the fun the judges were having together.
Think about why the YOUTH MINISTRY GARAGE video show is so popular among youth workers. It’s not the content that we’re drawn to (just don’t tell the hosts that) as we watch Doug, Josh, Katie and Matt interact with each other. Maybe we like that they answer questions and interact with the audience. But, I think we’re drawn to them as a group because they like each other (as far as we know, at least). We watch it to be encouraged by that, we laugh with (and at) them, and we are drawn into their world. And because of that, many of us feel encouraged and like we can continue on for another month in youth work. read more…
This past week Seth Godin wrote that real-time news is neither. He said, “Go watch an hour of cable news from a year ago… what were they yelling about that we actually care about today?”
It made me think about my field of youth ministry and the books that we clamor for and trumpet each year. Some received a LOT of press when they came out but today are rarely mentioned or discussed. Others have seemed timeless and continue to inform the field. Others may not have sold as many copies, but have a devoted following.
People fear the introduction of technology into education and its classrooms. However, perhaps its ability to deliver content will free instructors to teach, challenge, develop, and shape thinking in new ways… the way that used to characterize teaching. Think about it: Much of traditional teaching has been the ‘banking’ method (Paulo Freire) – where the instructor has this information and by talking nonstop for 50 minutes, supposedly deposits it in the students’ minds. And whether real learning has happened is anyone’s guess.
So, to challenge our fears a bit, read this blog and then watch this video:
Before social media, cell phones, or computers (yes, once youth ministry leaders had to lead and work with teens without technology’s aid), I knew a youth pastor at a church who spent a significant amount of time (hours!) each month cutting and pasting together his calendar and mailers for students and parents.
About 20 minutes’ drive away from him another youth worker I watched in action spent little time on flyers or mailers. He wasn’t part of a church, so each week his youth ministry had to find ways to be attractive to teens without the push of parents. And it was. Students would pack into large living rooms to spend an hour playing some games and discussing a hot topic that related to faith in Christ.
So, yesterday I asked folks to identify those in youth work and youth ministry who are the great teachers. Who are the leaders, whether currently in youth work or used to work with youth, who could lead discussions, give talks, facilitate small groups or trips, and just ‘know’ how to do it all in a way that connects with youth. When they taught (via a variety of methods), students learned.
I sit with parents and prospective students every month who are curious about majoring in youth ministry at Bethel College. More often than not, the student is very excited about his or her interest in youth work, but the parents are more hesitant to see their son or daughter choose that their major in college. The concerns generally range from whether they can earn a living in youth ministry, or whether they should major in a real degree so they have something to fall back on ( I presume the concern is that they may fail and youth ministry, or get chewed up like many do in local congregations).
These are valid concerns, however I think they also tell more about the economic pressure we feel when facing correlation versus anything else. As I stated in a previous post, I think we have begun to see higher education more as a means to be productive financially versus a process to become educated and wireless. And the reality is that not many people actually were in the area the major in while attending college. I am always amazed that youth ministry as a degree tends to get higher scrutiny than degrees like music (what I majored in), or history, or even psychology (the second most popular major for college students) that requires an additional Masters degree in order to work in that world.