The Care and Feeding of Your Youth Minister

To avoid any confusion, here’s a quick disclaimer: this is not based solely my personal experience though that has definitely colored my perception. From what I’ve heard, this can apply pretty much across the board.

So you’ve decided to add a youth minister to your life… Congratulations! Your life is about to get a lot more exciting. Youth ministers can be wild and unpredictable, but also very loving and affectionate. Taking care of your youth minister does entail some special considerations. Left on their own, the average life-span of a youth minister is frequently only 18 months or less, but with proper care, your youth minister may last much longer. In the right circumstances, some have been known to thrive for 20-30 years!

Bringing Your Youth Minister Home

• Be careful of the environment where you place your youth minister. Make sure that the environment is open and comfortable, allowing your youth minister a lot of freedom. Youth ministers thrive in environments with a high amount of freedom.

• If you have had several youth ministers in a row, all with short lifespans, it may be that the environment has been poisoned. Don’t place all the blame on the youth ministers that haven’t lasted. Though it may look like a good environment from the outside, some seem specifically designed to kill youth ministers.

• Do not isolate your youth minister.

• When pairing your youth minister with a pastor, a good match can greatly enhance the life of your youth minister by adding companionship and support. Be warned though, a bad pairing can greatly shorten the youth minister’s lifespan. In fact, if they don’t get along, pastors often are the ones who kill the youth minister.

• The office may be your pastor’s preferred habitat, but too much time in an office may make your youth minister suffocate.

Feeding Your Youth Minister

• It is often assumed that your youth minister will feed himself. While this is true to a degree, youth ministers still need to be fed by others. Many people simply drop their youth minister off in their environment and then ignore them until they starve or until something goes wrong.

• Youth ministers can be fed on the job in many ways: encouragement, listening, support, prayer, volunteering, and others. Make sure you also feed them outside of their job through friendship and relationship.

• Youth ministers often spend so much time feeding students that they forget to eat. Make sure that they have plenty of meals and plenty of time to eat them.

Important Considerations:

• Remember that your youth minister is an individual and may be very different than other youth ministers you’ve had before. Don’t expect two youth ministers to do things in exactly the same way, even if one had success with their methods in the past.

• While youth ministers and senior pastors share many similarities, they are not the same thing.

• Youth ministers love building relationships with students, but just being with students is not enough. Though they may be close to students, they also need close relationships with adults.

• Following these tips does not guarantee that your youth minister will have a long life, but they will greatly increase the odds that your youth minister’s life with you will be happy and healthy.

So youth ministers (and youth ministry supporters), anything else you’d like to add?

Classic Column Sunday: Ask Mr. Answer Man

Greetings common people! I am Mr. Answer Man! Please, stop applauding; it embarrasses me… Okay, don’t stop. A rather disturbing fact has recently been brought to my attention during my meetings at Janitors Anonymous. (I myself am not a janitor. I like to go to discuss my personal struggle to grow sideburns.) More and more papers that are wadded up and thrown into the floors of high school classes have failing grades on them. I first attributed this to stupidity, but after further thought, I determined that students simply do not a proper place to reference their scholastic questions.

That is the purpose of this column, to send the message to our younger generations that they are not alone in the quest for the perfect scholastic year. (Nor the perfect party. Mail me suggestions.) A extensive study performed by the same scientists who cloned Dolly the sheep and taught Pauly Shore how to speak reveals that careful attention and application of all that is presented within can give a person an unquestionable grasp of all things intelligent. When you have a question that has troubled your mind for countless hours, just address me and I will answer it so simply that you will feel my intelligence radiating though the newsprint. Ask away, minions!

Q: When did civilization first appear on Earth?

A: There are many differing opinions as to when man first achieved a level of living that could adequately be described as “civilized.” In my right opinion, I believe that true civilization did not begin until the year of my birth, 1981.

Q: Okay, so, like, there’s this girl in my Algebra class who’s, like, really cool and stuff, and I’m thinking about asking her to go see a movie or something. But she’s, like, really smart so I’m like, “What should I do?” And my friends are like, “Whatever!” So I’m like, “For real?” And they’re like, “Totally!” So my question is, do girls like that like smarter guys and stuff, and how do I get smarter?

A: This is obviously a desperate case. What you need, my boy, is a crash course in how to think. If gorillas can be taught sign language then surely you cannot be too much more difficult. Under my watchful eye, I can take you from a slobbering gutter cretin to a Mensa member to end all Mensa memberships. I could do this, but frankly, I just do not care enough about you or your pathetic love life. She probably would prefer that you had a brain in your head, but unfortunately for you, there are guys like me out there to steal all the thinking girls away.

Q: You’re rather conceited, aren’t you?

A: One of my intelligence and station need not turn to conceit, as conceit is thinking too highly of oneself. Since no one can think too highly of me, then it would not me considered conceit. Besides, you dress funny…

*Ahem* Hey guys, this is Jody interrupting here for a second. Mr. Answer Man is not exactly working out so well so I have decided not to let him work with this column anymore. You can never tell what a little attention will do to a person in the spotlight. I know there are still a few questions out there so I’ve searched high and low for a replacement, and, lo and behold, I found one where I least thought to look… hiding in my refrigerator. Here he is folks, Mr. Randomly Generated Thought Man.

Q: Why aren’t there anymore dinosaurs?

A: Dinosaurs and their disappearance are one of life’s great mysteries. Let’s go ride our bikes!

Q: Okay, so, like, I still don’t know what do to about that girl in my Algebra class. That last guy was a loser. So, like, what’s up with that deal about the chicks liking smarter guys?

A: Girls and their disappearance are one of life’s great mysteries. But let us not dwell on these matters. Louis Armstrong played the trumpet, and Frank Sinatra was Old Blue Eyes. I miss the refrigerator.

Jody again. No more question and answer times in this column. I am truly sorry about all this mess. I guess that there are some things man was never meant to understand, namely calculus, dinosaurs, and females.

Adventures in Pre-Fatherhood, Part II

My Baby Momma, or, “Pardon me while I vomit on your shoes.”

To prepare myself for the next nine months, I’ve been doing a little reading about pregnancy and what to expect when we’re expecting by reading the aptly titled What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Along with that great resource, I’ve also been pouring over the equally informative Babies and Other Hazards of Sex: How to Make a Tiny Person in Only 9 Months, with Tools You Probably Have around the Home by Dave Barry. Based on my reading of these two books as well as my week of first-hand experience I now feel qualified to use my blog as a tool teach others about the joys and trials of growing a baby. (Hint: It doesn’t involve a cabbage patch at all.)

The nine months of pregnancy is divided up into three units called “trimesters,” which is Latin for “three mesters.” The first trimester, the place where Alanna is right now, is a lot of fun. And when I say “fun,” I mean, “not fun.” During this phase of Operation Baby, the woman’s body basically goes crazy for a while. You’ve got hormones that have no business being in a human body in the first place suddenly taking over. When these hormones kick in, they usually bring with them a whole bunch of fatigue, soreness, nausea, vomiting, mood swings, and the desire to mix pickles and ice cream.

I can joke about these things because as a guy, I’m not the one going through them. For my wife, however, this is no laughing matter. In fact, she’s probably going to hit me when she reads this. The reason for this is that during this stage of pregnancy, the baby gets its nourishment by consuming the mother’s sense of humor. For instance, I really enjoy making comments to Alanna that I am now her “Baby Daddy,” but usually she just rolls her eyes while I’m laughing at my own joke. Thankfully, after the first trimester, everything should stabilize and she will once again be able to appreciate my wittiness (assuming she ever appreciated it in the first place… I think she actually married me despite my sense of humor.)

Based on my research, it’s important to note that at this stage, our baby has a tail. It will shrink and go away over the next month, but at this moment, we have a little tadpole. Plus, it looks like there is an alien growing inside of my wife. Watch the skies… and the womb!
So anyway, in case you’re wondering (or wandering), Alanna is cool with me making smart alec comments about her pregnancy and discussing her nausea in front of the whole world via the internet. She will undoubtedly hit me, but she would probably do that anyway. (Remember, mood swings are part of the joys of pregnancy!) Stay tuned for more educational moments, most of which is at least somewhat true.