Wednesday, August 8, 2012

#256-Upgrading to be a Youth Pastor (A how-to-guide)

Consider Tommy Boy here. He's 17 and Apostolic and he's just itching for the youth pastor position that will inevitably open in a few years when the current youth pastor, Pastor Mike, either gets promoted to being an elder in the church or just gets all antsy once he realizes the real Pastor doesn't really have plans for him to become the next church's pastor and leaves the church in a cloud of controversy and accusation.

Tommy Boy wants that position so bad he can't stand it. And he's slightly fearful of the competition. His Apostolic peers in his church that are around about the same age as him and seem to all secretly be vying for that sacred position. No one says it of course.This is how the game goes. Tommy Boy knows it. And as for him and his peers, they all know the others are trying to veer towards that same sacred cow of being a youth pastor. They are all friends. They are all suspicious of each other. They all want the same thing. One of them alone will get the role. And one of them, "Soggy Bobby T" has a leg up on the competition. He is the pastor's son. Hate Soggy Bobby T. Hate him because he is always sweating when he prays and is always brandishing a handkerchief at the altar. Hate him because he is entitled. Tommy Boy would hate him but he knows that this would also be ministerial suicide. Instead he keeps his enemies closest and is thus Soggy Bobby T's best friend.

To be a youth pastor means a whole lot.  It means people will listen to you and look up to you. It means the entire world in terms of Apostolic Culture. It means headlining at youth rallies. and if you preach good enough and meet the right people and suck-up without making it obvious, you could preach youth conventions and special conferences all over the great land of the free, the United State of America. It also means girls. A lot of girls. It means you have your pick of girls when you are a youth pastor.  This is important.

So Tommy Boy, here's my advice to you... just a few rules to enforce to ensure yourself the role of one day becoming a youth pastor:

1) Have a bright future.

2) Make sure Soggy Bobby T gets involved with drugs or alcohol. The key is to deliver them personally or introduce to a view shady lads who have the hook-up. Do not tattle on Soggy Bobby T when he falls. If you did, the pastor will assume you are the enemy. It's paradoxical indeed. Just make sure he gets the drugs/alcohol. If you do it right there will be no need to tattle on Soggy Bobby T. He'll just about give up on caring about the ministry altogether and say mean things about the church. 

3) Do not take drugs or alcohol (see the predicament of Soggy Bobby T above for reason why you shouldn't.). Likewise, Don't get caught in the backseat of your car with a girl who you know is there just to control the urges and is in no way a viable candidate to be a youth pastor's wife. (For the female thing, notice that I said "Don't get caught" and not "Do not end up in the backseat...."

4) Pray longer than all your competition at the altar. Note: You don't have to pray harder than the competition because hard prayer with many tears is interpreted as a prayer of repentance for major back-seat-with-girl kind of sins.

5) Do not get caught eyeing the competition at the altar to ensure that you are the last one praying. Never pray with your eyes open. It's weird. And reveals that you are a fake.

6) Cry only at the altar.

7) Ensure you are in the proper position to always get prayed for by big-time visiting preachers at the altar.

8) Read expensive Christian books with cool covers and textures sold at Barnes & Noble. Yes they are stupid and have no substance and act like they have a way more significant meaning than they really have. It's not the message you're after. It's the lingo that they use in the books that you need to learn. Also, they are each totally good for two sermons to preach that you can act like are your own, original, God inspired idea. The best books can be stretched into an entire preaching series. 

9) Never ask to preach or teach. It looks selfish and self-indulgent. If you aren't getting asked to teach and you absolutely need to let the authorities know that you want to preach... tell them God gave you a word to preach. That way your request is not your own fault but rather God's fault.

10) Tattle on ministers whom you think are secretly emergent to your pastor. If you don't know anyone whose secretly emergent, accuse the competition of being emergent anyways. This will demonstrate loyalty.

11) Come up with a mantra that says "The message doesn't change. It's the methods that we need to be open about changing." Embrace the head nods of everyone you say this to.

12) Start praying for others at the altar as if you are superior to them. The key is not to pray from the side of a person but by standing right in front of them, with your hand on their forehead and like, begin to rock them heavy, with your hand. This tactic is especially useful when used on your friends who are competing to be a youth pastor. Be militant here.

13) Talk to guests at altar call. It doesn't even have to be about God. You can talk about sports or a television show. Everyone seeing you talk to the guest will assume you are witnessing.

14) Only pray for those at the altar who are already praying very sincerely. Otherwise it can get really awkward really fast.

15) Be relevant. Be cool.  Dress dapper. Become vain. Ignore the vanity of others. Never bring the issue up as a sin. This is essential to getting in with the "in crowd."

16) Listen to podcasts of other ministers. They don't have to be Apostolic. Use the podcasts for your own sermons. Tell no one.

17) Ask a lot of questions to your pastor to make him think you value his opinion. You may already know the answer to the question but ask anyway. You may find the questions stupid, but as long as it makes the pastor feel like you see him to be in a position of authority, you'll win every time. Just make sure the questions are more the "served on a tee to be hit out of the park" kind of questions and not the Tough Questions.

18) Casually and frequently mention something you read in your Bible during your own devotion time. But never do so like it's forced.

19) Tell people you are praying for them. 

20) Consider bible school.

21) Minister to the 12 and 13 year olds no matter how boring and stupid they are. The mothers will like you.

22) Always go out to eat after church.

23) Don't read Romans. If you do, do not try to comprehend Romans.

24) Psalms is always a solid source to preach from. Simple stuff here.

25) Pay thousands of dollars to go on a three week missions trip. It's easy. And IT'S A HUGE RESUME BUILDER.

26) If you are a bad preacher, become a teacher or missionary.

27) Do not state your ambition to become a youth pastor whatsoever. It's ministerial suicide. When it comes to the ministry, you must never state your wants out loud. Instead you must earn the position silently and innocently. You must act like you are seeking God first and foremost, and when you've been having a go with God long enough, a pastor will pat you on the back years down the road and say "welcome aboard Youth Pastor." Then you must act shy and unassuming and unworthy of the role. You must say "golly" and "shucks" a lot and say "you really want me to be youth pastor? Me, I'm a nobody." You may mention from time to time that the Good Lord, Himself called you to "The Ministry" at the altar at Summer camp, but also know that this gets you few friends and many enemies.

28) Make Christianity to be about submission and obedience and not love. Ignore the story of Jesus washing the feet of Peter. Of course this can change once you are youth pastor and have earned a little-freedom-of-theological interpretation. But this is only after you are youth pastor.

29) When the issue of the trinity comes up... always answer "Fully God, Fully man." Ignore the fact that this doesn't make sense. If questioned further tell the person asking to "quick, look over there" and while they are looking, run like whoa.

30) If you are not from the South, develop a pseudo-Southern accent and say "Yes, sir" and "No Ma'am" a whole lot. If you are from the South, move up North. We're waiting for you to be our shepherd.

Follow these things and you will reap the benefits you soon-to-be-youth-pastor, you.

Edit: What rules did I miss? We already got some real nice one's in the comments... And I'm a hankering for a repost of the added suggestions.


  1. Joel, you left off a few.

    -If your youth group passes out awards like 'Most Spiritual' and 'Most On Fire For God' make sure you compete for these trophies like Ricky Bobby (if you're not first, you're last). Most Spiritual can usually be won with very little spirituality and very much brown nosing those who decide who gets it. So get out there and mow your pastors lawn!

    -The front row is your friend. If the front row had a neon sign over it the sign would read "Youth Pastor Contestants".
    And if the second row had a sign over it the sign would read "Don't even look at them, they might as well already be in rehab."

    -If you're ever at a house and either an R-rated movie or a questionable PG-13 movie gets put in just get out. It doesn't matter if it's sleeting and 30 below. Just run. Make sure word gets back to your pastor, but just make sure you're not the one telling him. He'll consider this a good measure of character.

    -Only read KJV. God help you if you even accidentally brush an NLT in passing.

  2. Coyly let others know that you are fasting by inviting them to join you and do so at least for three consecutive days before you preach. Only date lasses that are on the platform or are the daughters of ministers. Develop some damaging complex that you hide from all for the rest of forever. Counsel others that deal with the same types of issues with an aura of superiority. After all, you're "practically perfect in every way". They wouldn't let you lead unless this was true.

  3. Your wife has to sing. This is non-negotiable. It would also help if she were five or more years younger than you. Bonus points for the daughter of a position holder. Deal-sealer if the position is national.

  4. 31). Get youth congress speakers to follow you on twitter. Do this be complimenting them after their message. "You nailed it on the head. That is what my young people have bee struggling with. Thank you for being the voice of our generation and not compromising the message."

    32). Once you get the big timers to follow you on twitter, only Tweet about conferences. This must include late night pics with said ministers after sermons.

    1. 31). Typo: be should be by*

  5. Hey this looks like some fun, I'll join in:

    1. You might be tempted to be perfect, but this is only a trap! You must have a flaw, a secret imperfection that must be hinted at, but never fully revealed. At youth camp and Sunday school it's important to make oblique references to your thorn in the flesh in the past tense, as in, "Last year, God really took me through some stuff, I'm really just grateful for His mercy." This proves that you're not holier than everybody, but that you also own sin, like a boss.

    1.5: Exception to the above: You must know the room you're working. If you think you can swing it, you can make the struggle into a present issue, but remember, it must be vague and never elucidated. The stock phrase, "I'm not where I need to be right now, I'm fighting with some things, I know that. I want to get back to where I used to be with God." Throw in a verse for good measure. Use this sparingly and make sure you've got a backup, really insignificant sin to offer up as the issue, should any your competitor Polly and Peter Pentecostals get too nosey about what you're struggling with.

    2. After a particularly powerful service, maybe one where you got drunk on the spirit, be sure to keep the party going even after it's over--remember, aint no party like a holy ghost party cause a holy ghost party don't stop--this isn't an aphorism, it's a FACT, ENFORCE IT. At the post-service meal, make yourself appear to be as hammered drunk on new wine as possible. If you can swing it, lapse into fake tongues frequently, maybe even whilst ordering your meal. If you've really, seriously got the guts and a good partner (future spouse in the ministry?), clam up and speak exclusively in mumbled tongues the whole rest of the night. Everybody else may have moved on from the power, but not you. The partner is for translation, she/he will translate what you want. This is like, super holy.

    2.5: Take every opportunity after service to ask random people if they need prayer, especially your waitress at the post-service meal. It's a good bet that the waitress at Cracker Barrel working the closing Sunday shift won't be too hostile to prayer and if she is, take it as reference material when you preach on the lost world.

    3. Take copious notes during every sort of service you attend. You are a biblical scholar in training and every single word from the pulpit is precious. Remember, regular people are just watching and responding to the sermon, you've got to multitask and get even more out of it. Further, carry this notebook or leatherbound memo-pad with you wherever you go, for appearances sake. Carry it up near your breast pocket, so everyone can see it.

    4. As I described in a much earlier post, develop a good demon story (or several) for use in general spiritual discussion. These stories show that demons are always bugging you, because you're such a serious threat to the devil that he's got to get rid of you. Of course, you dominate the demons hardcore, cause you're awesome like that, but make sure there's a little suspense to it. Be careful when telling the story with others, yours has to be better, so keep some reserve stories that are just downright nuts in your backpocket in case somebody else tries to trump you.

    5. Keep in your possession a plethora of bible study dvd's from famous pastors, ostensibly for your own use, but never fail to offer to build extra bible studies around them and offer to teach them yourself, because they've been so powerful in your life.

  6. 1) Befriend a well known evangelist or elder or board member... regardless if they want to be your friend or not. Then follow them anywhere, pick up dry cleaning, run errands, bring water... BECAUSE others see you with "them".

    2) Figure out some creative way to be beckoned up onto the platform... even if it just for a few seconds during service (try buying your own brand of bottled water and pass it around to only platform staff, give visiting ministers and pastor two bottles each)
    Everyone sees you cross that invisible line, and the power people get used to seeing you "used".

    3) There is always "the group" that because of the times will be going to the pastor's house, or a particular restaurant. You must be invited to that event, volunteer at that event, or if need be sneak into the event!! But always, and I repeat always act like you belong there!

    4) Date a pastor's daughter, but then YOU break up with her. Very important... the break up part... that is where you want to focus. This can make you VERY well known!!

    5) After breaking up with the pastor's daughter... bring a sinner girl to church with you. Preferably that Starbucks girl you always flirt with... just make sure she wears a dress. Guaranteed to have even more people talk about you.
    PS. Even better if she shows up at the Bible College to visit you!

    You are now the protegee of "well-known preacher" and you were also at so and so's house "just Because". Then went out with Bro. Pastor's daughter and had a rough breakup... but continued seeking after his ministry, and people are a bit worried because of the Starbuck's girl (but secretly admired her, oh.. I mean your authenticity).

    At this point, you are now well seen enough, that "they" will reach out to you so as not to lose this young man to that worldly girl influence after his nasty breakup with Bro. Pastor's daughter, because we need more young men like him!!

    Your "IN".

    I probably really shouldn't have disclosed all this....

  7. This is the funniest stuff I've read in a really long time.

  8. -Major Events are requirements, not recreation, and to be taken very seriously. Attending is mandatory and how you look, where you eat, who you're seen with, where you stay are all to be planned meticulously, yet come off as sporadically thrown together at the last minute. You must stay at HQ Hotel. God help you if you're not at the HQ hotel. After you leave the restaurant and have effectively rubbed shoulders with the upper echelon make sure you've allocated enough time for schmoozing in the lobby of HQ hotel. It's very important that you're seen there. It's also important who you're seen with there. If you manage to find your way into the right group make sure to sit down. Standing looks like you just wandered up. You want a Seat At The Table, not a path to walk by it.
    You must have the proper photo shoot and photo shoot attire at the major event. If you can get a picture with one of the event speakers good on ya, but it has to look casual, like you're two buds just hanging out.
    After the service your tie comes off and the top button comes unbuttoned. You have to achieve the right level of 'disheveled'. After you eat must come the wardrobe change. Something chic, relatively casual, but remember - you're making a statement, and that statement is "I'm a respectable young man, worthy of your trust and faith." You'll have three wardrobe changes per day, maximum, unless you're from IBC and four is the minimum. (Unless it's Music Fest, mid concert changes don't count, so four on top of your back stage changes) **side note - your after service outfits for Music Fest are the single most important outfits you'll ever wear. Put them on par with your wedding tux.**
    For General Conference and Youth Congress the right balance of socializing in the lobby and churching it up in the arena is crucial. You can't miss the opportunities for photo op's and name dropping, but you also have to know what sermons were preached, what songs were sung and have at least ten minutes altar call time. Invest in a stop watch, or at the very least use the app on your 64gb White iPhone 4S you preordered. You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times, both to not miss an opportunity and to evade potential traps, such as getting stuck in a conversation with a youth pastor known to be making his exit into charismania. It doesn't matter if he's your best friend and he was scheduled to preach youth congress until word got out he was going to that church we don't speak of, DISTANCE YOURSELF. Repercussions can be catastrophic. Be on the watch for this, it will sneak up behind you. You have to be Jason Bourne for these three days. Don't forget it.

  9. 1) Get an instagram. Keep it public, so everyone can see how cool you are. Do NOT and I repeat do NOT follow anyone who is not in the "in crowd" this includes members of your own youth group. Additionally, do not reply to any comments on your pictures unless said commenter is in the above group.

    2) If your church has a daughter work, attend it at least twice a month. Show up in your least-flashy suit. Pray hard while there. Make sure you minister to "crazy Polly," you know the one everyone doesn't like. But make sure you do it when you can be seen. If called up to the platform, always be ready to say something, but make sure you compliment the pastor on the fine work he is doing.

    3) Learn to accessorize. Watches, scarves, bow ties, pocket squares, trendy eye wear, and colored socks are your best friends. Use them.