Youth workers are great at managing our image. We are great at painting a public picture that everything is going great. Peruse the youth ministry blogs out there and many of them will offer lists and tips that promise to revitalize and revolutionize your ministry. I love how the youth ministry community shares thoughts and resources. I am thankful for the many women and men who are willing to bless others with their work, usually for free. But there is a dark side to this culture of tips and tricks. It comes when there is a deep divide between image and reality.
Do a google search of “Pinterest vs. Reality” and you’ll see tons of people who have attempted to do creative ideas from Pinterest and failed miserably (usually with the caption “Nailed It!”). The Pinterest community thrives on the idea that we can follow easy steps and create cool DIY crafts, art and meals. The reality doesn’t always work that way.
The youth ministry world works in a similar way. We read blogs where someone offers their tips and tricks. They sound promising, so you try them in your own context only to fail miserably.
Inadvertently, the youth ministry world has sent the message that there are some ministries out there that are “model” ministries and leaders that we should imitate. This has always been around. When I started in youth ministry every conference and book promised to offer the best model. The problem is that now it’s so not just in books or conferences. It’s podcasts, blogs, tweets, pins, and ‘grams. Because of our adoption of social media, the amount of tips and tricks overwhelm us by the hundred and thousands each day.
It’s like we’re taking ministries selfies where we suck in our stomach and photoshop the flab. We’ve become the supermodel that can’t even recognize herself by all the digital work that’s been done.
The reality is there is NO perfect ministry. For every tip that we have that works are dozens that fail. Every ministry has it’s weaknesses and that’s ok. Hiding our problems isn’t helping anyone.
I realize that I am part of the problem. I’m coming to realize that in my desire to bless others I may fudge the results to help me sound more authoritative or convincing. For that I’m sorry. We’ve had wins in our ministry this past year, we’ve also had flops (like our mega event where 6 kids showed up). I am sorry for being part of the culture that doesn’t give you the whole picture.
Can we resolve for 2014 to paint a more realistic picture of our ministries? Can we stop putting up the impression that we’ve got it all figured out. We can learn from each other and share resources, but let’s just be honest. None of us have it all figured out. As soon as we start being realistic we can actually help one another be healthy (instead of perfect).
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]