Artificical Authenticity.

I've been in a few different situations where people around me will be talking about youth ministry and how they go about being the youth leader they are. Some will promise to be the biggest and wildest youth leader on the market. "These kids just respond to people who are willing to go over the top!" Some others try their very best to simply be the pipeline through which the Bible is transmitted. "I do my best to get out of the way, and let the Scriptures do the talking." Still others come across as the happy fun times best friend that we all wish we had in high school. "I'm taking the kids to Disney World!"

What always cracks me up is when I visit with these various flavors of youth ministers in their homes, when the students are nowhere to be found, or their elder board isn't watching their meeting time. On more occasions than I would like to admit to, these folks are two different people: The people at their jobs and the people they are the rest of the time. This is a personality disorder at it's worst.

What happened to authenticity? To actually allowing your students to see who you are and what you're like? What's wrong with showing students that you're actually a bit of a nerd? What's wrong with sharing with them when you don't feel like you have it all together? Would your ministry really collapse if you let your personal life into it? Would your personal life collapse if you let your ministry into it?

I'm not saying kids need to come by your house every day and eat all your cookies. But I am saying that trying to figure out the best way to be authentic to the kids is probably going to lead you to something that isn't very authentic. Authenticity it turns out doesn't come with a game plan.

The formula for youth ministry used to be something like this: Cool guy likes Jesus. Teens like Cool Guy. Teens like Jesus. It was almost a sure thing for a while there, to the point where you could just throw a pizza party and drench kids in your awesomeness and get a 10% increase at your next altar call. But I think the formula has shifted, or at least I think it needs to.

Maybe the formula should be something more like this. Broken Youth Leader NEEDS Christ. Broken Youth Leader is willing to show Students just how much he/she needs Christ, and how much Christ has come through for them. Teens begin to understand their dependance on Christ. Years of discipleship and mentoring begin.

If you try to convince the world around you that your sin is small, the world around you will come to think that your savior must be small as well. So my friends, let's put the artificial authenticity on the shelf and pull down the organic kind. I think it will serve Christ better in the long run anyway!



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