Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting Fired for the Glory of God

Mike Yaconelli, youth ministry architect and visionary, had a gift to make everyone around him feel special, valued and uniquely gifted to impact the live of teenagers and the Kingdom. His words are still read, remembered and talked about in student ministry circles. After his death, Mike's children collected a number of their father's presentations in a book entitled Getting Fired for the Glory of God (great title for student ministry crowds that captures Yaconelli flare and passion) in which Mike's passion for students and student ministers is clearly seen.

This morning I picked up Getting Fired and read the chapter on "How Pastors Can Keep Youth Workers."  It was based on a presentation Mike gave in March of 2003 in which he gave advice to Senior Pastors on how they could better support and lengthen the staying power of student ministers.   My attention was immediately drawn to advice points 9 and 10.  Yaconnelli was talking Intergenerational ministry language before such "talk" became the buzz word at many of today's student ministry conferences!  Check it out:

9.  Now that you've hired a youth worker, don't expect that she'll do all the youth work.  Expect the congregation to volunteer, and if there's no response, go with the youth worker to personally invite others to help.  Believe that for every five kids in the middle or high school youth group, there should be one adult volunteer spending time with those kids on a regular basis.

10.  Include young people in the life of the church, not just youth night.  In fact, don't have youth night.  Put teenagers on boards, have them participate in the services and as greeters, and encourage the senior members of the congregation to "adopt" kids in the youth group so each has an older mentor, friend, pen pal, and wise sage.  Encourage both the kids and the seniors to exchange letters and tiny gifts for birthdays and special moments, and have the students put on a dinner once a year for their older pals. 

Awesome, echoing words from a student ministry sage.  Advice that needs to be picked up by Senior and Student ministers alike.  Warning, following such advice may get you fired. It is that revolutionary.

Question:  Why would such student ministry strategies get a youth worker fired?


  1. Answer: Because they are outside the status quo.

  2. I agree. And the status quo is? (I have an answer but would love your thoughts)

  3. Getting the youth worker to do all the work is easy and its clean. When you begin to get intergenerational "stuff" happening, church gets messy. Senior pastors don't like messy, elders don't like messy, they want things wrapped up in a nice neat little package and not have "those" kids mess with what we (the rest of the church) are doing in here. The problem is not that most church leaders (I've encountered) disagree with the concept of intergenerational ministry, but rather that they don't want to do the work that comes along with it. It is much easier to have church done in their own safe context where everyone is comfortable and no one has to get messy.

  4. Excited to read your blog! :)

  5. Aaron, well said and right on target! I agree that intergenerational ministry is what we all know "works" (talking spiritual formation not numbers) and what we would like. We have lots of research that demonstrates the powerful role mom/dad and surrounding adults play in the spiritual formation of children. Outside of research, most of us can remember more significant adults than impacting lessons! Not to say programming for various generations is notimportant, but we have to get into the "Messy" (I love your use of that word)work of looking for ways to transform a number of these activities into opportunities to develop relationships across generational lines. How do we do this? I suggest readers visit periodically and check out the articles, free stuff and blogs. Yes, that was a shameless plug. Thanks again Aaron for a great post.

  6. Do it for me, do it to me, but don't make me do it.

    Something to think about...