Tuesday, August 12, 2008

#11 The Youth Group Leader/Youth Pastor

The youth group leader is a special phenomenon. As the title suggests, he leads the high school group at churches (particularly but not exclusively at large warehouse-style churches). Youth group leaders range in age from fresh-out-of-seminary to their late 40s, but they all they want to be able to relate to high schoolers. This desire manifests itself in the following ways:


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1. The youth group leader tries to present himself as hip. This usually means the he will cultivate one or all of the following: a goatee, soul patch, fauxhawk, ear or eyebrow piercing (but only on the coasts; never ever in the midwest or the Bible belt lest the church leadership thinks he might be gay). He will sometimes sculpt his hair into the Joey Tribiani front-swoop that was popular in the mainstream around 1997. Whichever look he is going for, it will involve hair gel unless he is prematurely balding, in which event he will opt for the shaved head/goatee combo.


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2. If the youth pastor is in his late 20s or older, he often will forego trying to be hip and will endeavor to present himself as zany. This usually means there is a 'goofy' picture of him on the church website with 'wacky' quotes about his favorite ice cream flavor and favorite movie (never anything rated R). Everything he says on the website is summarized with an "on a serious note" moment where the youth pastor reiterates his desire to glorify God in everything he does.


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3. If a youth pastor is married, he makes a point of frequently talking about his wife in glowing terms. He will often say that he "married up" or "married out of his league." You would think they never have a speck of conflict and that he defers to her at all times. (The youth pastor's wife is a separate phenomenon unto herself and will be explored in a future post. She often wears Crocs, leads a Beth Moore bible study, and has VPL.)


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4. A youth group leader is invariably earnest and eager to present himself as 'relatable' and trustworthy. When talking to a youth leader he will make a point of being a Good Listener. He does this by looking into your eyes with a slightly furrowed brow, interlacing his fingers and nodding almost constantly.


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5. A youth group leader brings his acoustic guitar to youth events and plays every chance he gets. You will be hard pressed to find a youth pastor who does not play guitar.


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6. A youth group leader likes to say that he is "rocking" a certain look or is "so going to do such-and-such." When summoning a group of people he enjoys saying "Let's rally!" and when signing an email he'll say "rock on" or "catch you on the flip." He is very careful never to curse. His job depends on this.

20 comments:

Snap to it! Sanp in time! said...

Hilarious descriptions, and all too true.

D. Lee Grooms said...

In the first pic, the shirt tucked in just over the large belt buckle—where have I seen this before? Hmmmm…

the nibbling marmot said...

fantastic.

fromhollandwithlove said...

Well said!

Although you forgot to mention they often wear those "trendy" necklaces. Ie the wooden beads or shell ones.

stephy said...

Thanks fromholland! I did a whole entry on the shell necklaces, I thought they deserved their very own post. :)

Anonymous said...

this would fall under stereotyping. I'm sorry you feel this way. You might consider the drive these people have for doing all these silly things.

bry said...

As a youth minister, I feel quite proud that I don't match any of the criteria in the post.
To be fair though, my youth group is very tiny and would probably be huge (which is totally the most important thing, right?) if I sold out like this and stopped trying to teach my kids how to be real people.

Decisions, decisions...

Anonymous said...

This post accurately describes the youth leader of every non-liturgical church within twenty miles of my house.

Anonymous said...

HEY!!! I am a women and a Youth Leader! What about me? If you are going to bash the youth leader get your facts right... not all of them are men!

Holly said...

I am screaming with laughter! This describes my youth pastor to a tee. From the earring to the acoustic guitar to the sad efforts to be cool. When my sister came home from missionary school she went on a few dates with him and everyone was all oooo! Maybe your sister will marry the youth pastor and then he'll be your brother! Cause that's how dope he was. Thank god she didn't.

brianmetz said...

I'm a youth pastor and I don't play guitar...nor would I describe myself as zany.

Stereotypin' doesn't rock.

Catch you on the flip!

marie said...

That's so true about their wives! And I would add that their wives are usually very pretty, because young Christian men have their pick of eligible Christian women who can't wait to get married.

Amber said...

Hey, I was a youth pastor wife, and I wore an Independent hoodie and Emericas. I never attended one women's event or Beth Moore study in my years at the church, either. We even had Beth Moore come to our town (we were at a large church) and I turned down all offers by the nice older ladies who wanted to buy a ticket for the poor young youth pastor's wife.

Perhaps if I had been more crocy and polo-shirty we would still be Christians. Still, I would love to see this promised post on youth pastors' wives. Don't forget to include the obsessive need to be sporty but not actually adventurous, since that's reserved for the guys' retreats!

Patrick said...

I made a joke about it back at my old church: Every youth pastor I have ever known has at least a goatee. I know one guy who wasn't a youth pastor, inherited the position when the old youth pastor moved, then started 'rocking' the goatee look after going his entire adult life (up to 43) without one.

Mel T said...
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Chrissy said...

I can't take it! Too much! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Almost speechless, but I must somehow express my glee! Umm........Congratulations?! No. I think I mean thank you. Yes. Thank you! You've made my brain so happy!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious, i had a youth minister almost exactly like this. He turned out to be the most deprave person I had ever met. Too funny.

Anonymous said...

That describes my former youth group pastor to a tee!

He went to jail for raping his seven-year-old daughter.

Mel T said...

Let me guess. She got off with 6 months probation.

Lennyb said...

No wonder I got fired, err, resigned ...