Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why Lock-In is a Cuss Word

Ah yes, the lock-in, the event every youth group wants to do because "they're the greatest thing like, ever!" It's the chance to do what many teenagers do anyway, stay up all night and consume massive amounts of sugar and caffeine. For adults, and in particular, the youth pastor, lock-in ranks up there with George Carlin's list of dirty words in their vocabulary. Here's my thoughts on why lock-in is a cuss word in my vocabulary/ministry. Yes I'm a hypocrite because we did one on New Years, but let me emphasize the verb "did" and the quantity "one" :)

1) Sleep deprivation has the equivalent effect on the body as alcohol. Anyone who's stayed up all night studying or playing dodge-ball in a church gym can testify to the fact at some point in the night you just feel different. One study I heard of said being awake for 18 hours without rest is the same as having a 0.05 blood alcohol level. Sleep deprivation isn't healthy for the body, so why promote it and disrupt that which God gave us to enjoy, sleep?

2) Volunteer Shortages - The key problem in most church youth ministries is the volunteer problem. Many youth pastors have to cut back on programming because it's too hard to find people to staff them. Lock-ins are no exception, because what right-minded adult would forsake a warm bed to eat cold pizza and walk around a church on Make-Out Patrol?

3) Spiritual Significance - This is what I ask about any program, event, or activity: What is this doing to glorify God, point to Jesus, lead the lost to Jesus, and help us grow in our faith? Too often lock-ins are parties with a Bible passage in the middle. If you're going to have a captive audience for 8-9 hours, don't waste the time! It doesn't have to be a serious reading of Scripture all night, but if the purpose of the lock-in is just to have one, you're wasting your time, their time, and the church's money

4) Exhausting - The present-day youth pastor is often pulled and strained in so many directions and live in a constant state of exhaustion. Gone are the days when it was a special moment to have your youth pastor come to a ball game or event or whatever, now in many places it's an expectation (again, find that in Scripture, but then again, most job descriptions aren't biblical either). That said, a lock-in that requires 30-40 hours of preparation, recruiting, set-up, and execution is going to cause a youth pastor to choose between neglecting his wife/family or the necessary time he needs to study to teach.

5) Dark areas, teenagers, two genders, and hormones a-raging. Need I say anything more?

I'm not saying people who do lock-ins are bad or that their ministry isn't godly. All I'm saying by this is why I don't like them and don't plan on doing them anymore. They are great once in a LONG while I suppose, but to regularly do them is asking for rapid burnout.

These questions should always be during planning - What is this event/program/speaker/retreat/etc. doing to the glory of God and the health of the local church? Will this present the Gospel accurately and provide an environment for the Spirit to work on the hearts of those present? Will Jesus or You shine because of this? How is this encouraging missional living among everyone's circles of influence?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ten Things to Hear

Carrie sent me this list of 10 Things a Pastor's Wife Loves to Hear. Here they are, some funny some all too true:

10.) On our date night I just need to make a few hospital visits.

9.) I think I should go back to seminary.l

8.) It's funny how God always calls a pastor to a church that pays more.

7.) I noticed your family went to bed early last night.

6.) I can't believe the pastor's wife would do (or say or think) that.

5.) If it were my child I would want to know.

4.) Are you visiting with us today?

3.) I have been asked to do a funeral/wedding/baptism.

2.) Dear Lord, thank you for our pastor and his family.

1.) Well done my good and faithful servant.

After reading through them, I started wondering what 10 Things Every Youth Pastor Loves to Hear. Same principle applies, some are good to hear, some not so much...

10) Your budget is going to be reduced next year, giving is down and the economy is hurting, but we're going to spend $______ on this new ______.
9) We're going to bring you on part-time, but I foresee this being a full time position before too long
8) Why aren't you able to make it to __________ that my son/daughter is doing __________?
7) Thank you for being able to come on such short notice, we didn't know who else to call.
6) That camp was great, but it wasn't nearly as fun as __________.
5) You showed me something from the Bible I had never thought of before, and that was pretty cool.
4) Oh, he's just the youth minister. He's not a real pastor.
3) My son/daughter wants you to come to their graduation party, you've meant so much to them.
2) I've gotten to experience so much because of you, and you've helped me grow closer to God. Now I want to be a youth minister.
1) Thank you.