Because Thanksgiving lands on November 24 this year, here’s a list of 24 things to be thankful for this season :
1. Pizza—Pizza is to youth ministry as turkey is to Thanksgiving. It wouldn’t be complete without it!
2. Senior Pastors—They paved the way and led the charge. If it weren’t for them, there wouldn’t be us.
3. Lock-Ins—Love ’em or hate ’em, they’ve likely been a staple of your youth ministry at some point or another.
4. The Internet—We old folks remember when we needed bookshelves full of commentaries and other massive reference tomes. Thanks, Al Gore!
5. Summer Camp—Or, as your elders like to think of it, vacation.
6. Interns—The things college kids will do to build their resumes!
7. Critics—They keep us humble and make us stronger… at least, that’s what I always tell myself.
8. Fundraisers—Have you ever worked so hard to raise a couple hundred bucks? No, but the memories are almost always worth it.
9. Budgets—Be they big or small, every penny helps.
10. Student Leaders—The payoff is so worth the investment!
11. Chubby Bunny—Because no matter how disastrous a game turns out, it’s nice to be able to say, “Well, at least it wasn’t as bad as Chubby Bunny.”
12. Hillsong United—Without them, we’d still be singing “Our God Is an Awesome God” every week.
13. The Mannequin Challenge—How this became a thing will forever remain a mystery… a really, really fun mystery.
14. Helicopter Parents—They keep us on our toes, force us to be able to defend our decisions and policies, and often become our strongest allies.
15. Youth Ministry Blogs—They’re free, abundant, and always 100% fact-based and reliable.
16. Inflatables—How did we ever manage to have outreach events without these bouncy wonders?
17. Moms—They loan us their minivans, make cookies for the bake sale, fill in as last-minute counselors, console brokenhearted sixth-graders, and provide a much-needed perspective for almost any scenario.
18. Mafia—Has any game in the history of youth ministry bailed us out in a pinch as often? (If you disagree, I might have you killed when you least expect it.)
19. The Princess Bride—Studies reveal that 83.45% of youth groups have a copy of this classic. Unfortunately 81.5% are on VHS.
20. Group, Youth Specialties, Download Youth Ministry, etc.—These incredible organizations and others like them save Youth Ministry Nation hundreds of thousands of hours and help us do what we do a little (sometimes a lot) better.
21. Old-Timers—Jeanne Mayo, Duffy Robins, Walt Mueller, Mark Oestreicher, Doug Fields, Kara Powell, Rick Lawrence, and the entire generation of “mature” youth workers have provided years of credibility, resources, research, and support for people who’ve come behind and flourished in their wake.
22. Flannel Boards—I guess the only reason to thank flannel boards is because they were the youth ministry tool of choice when the folks listed above were rookies.
23. Dodgeball—Thank you, dodgeball, for allowing us to deliberately inflict pain on obnoxious kids in our ministry without fear of repercussion…until his friend drills us in the face.
24. Jesus—Above all else this Thanksgiving season, thank you to the One who was and is and is to come!
What “things to be thankful for’ would you add to the list?