I wrote this a long time ago (sometime in the mid-90's, back when I was still a youth minister). What with our youth gone to PowerPlant this week (Jenn, our summer youth minister, is a godsend) and me helping feed two WorldChangers groups here in town today (no, I didn't actually cook them any food - are you kidding?! - I was the delivery boy), I'm really in a "youth ministry" mode right now.
This is not rocket science. Here are seven golden rules for being a cool adult that youth like:
- Be yourself.
- Be an adult. (They have lots of friends who are teenagers. They need an adult friend, not another buddy.)
- Be a listener. (Old Jewish proverb: God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth, to be used in that proportion.)
- Be vulnerable. (Confess your sins, show them your weaknesses, let them know when you hurt... it makes it much easier for them to do the same with you.)
- Be a challenger. (Force them to think... very few other people are & after they get used to it, they like it.)
- Be available.
- Be able to laugh. (Not as much at them as with them... not as much at your jokes as at yourself. Model humor that builds up people rather than cuts them down!)
Youth know very few real people... and even fewer real Christians. Let Christ permeate every part of your life. (I have a feeling that Jesus was very much like these last seven points with His "youth group", the disciples.)
Funny, now as a senior pastor, I realize that all of these "rules" are equally effective in working with adults. And just like teenagers, adults know very few real people... and even fewer real Christians. Sigh.