I’m not a big New Year’s resolution type of guy. The truth is, I’ve never even tried to make most youth ministry resolutions. You name it, I haven’t made it! So while my ministry could probably benefit from my resolve to tackle certain tasks with more consistency and urgency, I’ll resist that temptation, as always. Instead, I resolve to set the following shocking goals for 2017:
1. I resolve to steal as much as possible.
Creativity is overrated, and I’ve been far too captivated by it. This year, I’ll be stealing (okay, borrowing) every ministry idea possible from every youth pastor I come across. I’ll ask people what’s working for them and try to adapt it for my setting. I’ll scour youth group websites to look at logos, camp themes, and youth rooms to try to save some time and energy. I’ll email my friends and ask if I can use their lessons, training materials, and resources they’re awesome at creating. We’re smarter together than individually, so I’ll tap into “our” brains more than ever. Before you hit the panic button or call the church lawyer to see if you can legally protect your “X-Treme Awesomeness” camp theme, please know I’m mostly joking. But I’ll certainly let you inspire me.
2. I resolve to talk about God a little less.
You read that right. I’ll talk less about God—and more about Jesus. I can already hear you scouring your old Systematic Theology textbook to figure out why this resolution makes no sense or is complete heresy. But let me explain. Most teenagers in our youth groups aren’t atheists. They like God, believe in him, and have a favorable opinion of him. And they dangerously assume those simple beliefs are sufficient. If you’re like me, you’ve unwittingly contributed to this belief system by using a bit too much generic “God talk” and not enough discussion of Jesus. Most churchgoing teenagers believe in God but have an incredibly insufficient understanding of the life-changing message of Jesus’ gospel message. So for me this year, it’s less God and more Jesus.
3. I resolve to be lazy.
Many youth pastors are stuck in a vicious cycle that goes like this:
- We’re passionate about our calling and work really hard to minister to teenagers in our church and community.
- The churches we serve often misunderstand the nature of youth ministry and have false perceptions of how we spend our time. People view camp as vacation, they consider event-planning and activity-programming easy, and when they can’t find us in the office, they assume we’re out playing Frisbee golf…which we may, in fact, be doing. But playing Frisbee golf with seventh graders involves much more work than people expect!
- We let our insecurities and our desire to be viewed as a “real pastor” drive us to work longer hours than the job requires—or more than is healthy for our lives, marriages, and other relationships.
- Rinse and repeat.
This year I’m breaking that cycle. I’m resolving to make a change and get lazy! My day off will be my day off. Late-night emails and text messages will go unanswered more often. Days of working 14 hours because I’m insecure about my colleagues’ perceptions will cease. Unless, of course, I’m playing Frisbee golf with a group of seventh graders…because that’s a 14-hour ordeal.