As a youth pastor, I like to believe that my ministry is more relational. I like to talk to students and hear what is happening in their lives. Not many adults really listen to students. Most are too busy telling them what to do. As a parent I can understand how that happens. You spend so much of your time trying to keep your kids safe and it is hard to really listen to them. We try to ask about their day, but get a shockingly truncated summary.
Me: How was your day?
Me: What did you do today?
C: Play, eat, learn.
Me: What did you play?
Me: What games?
C: Fun games?
Me: Can you describe them?
Talking to students can be a lot like that too. You have to go through a whole lot of that kind of stuff before one randomly tells you what is really happening, how things are at home, how frustrated they are about school, and ….. It often comes out in a torrent. The dam broke and nothing is stopping the flow of information.
Since it takes a lot of very shallow conversations to get to this point, we (youth pastors) have a habit of filling the time with events. It starts of slowly. When I started my current position I had 2 major events on the calendar and plans for a couple others. I just went over my calendar with the students this week, a kind of state of the youth address. This is what we did last year, this is all the cool stuff we are doing this year. We are up to 8 major events with the bulk in the summer. We also have smaller events each month, the events are multiplying. They may be related to tribbles. I have so many things I want to do, but quite frankly I need a system that makes it really hard for an event to get onto my calendar. Otherwise, my summer will just be one long event, staying up till 3 am, getting up at 6 am, and running hard all day for 3 months straight surviving on junk food. It will be one epic summer, especially when my heart bursts right out of my chest on the last day of summer.
What methods do you use to evaluate events? How do you say “no” to great ideas so you can say yes to even better ones?