Youth Ministry “Trick” #2


I love Jr. Highers.  We lovingly call them maggots.  When they get to 9th grade, they are promoted to “scrub” status.  It’s the maggots and scrubs that require the most patience.  Things get a little more complicated from 10th grade on.  That’s when DISCERNMENT really comes in.  Yeah, you’ll still need loads of patience, but it is discernment that lets you know when it is appropriate for patience to run out!  Clear as mud?  Let me explain it this way…

Consider Solomon in I Kings 3:5-12.  “Ask what I shall give thee,” God told Solomon.  Imagine that.  Solomon doesn’t ask for wealth, fame or a long life.  He asks God for “an understanding heart … that I may discern between good and bad… ”  Solomon believed the single most important thing he needed to be an effective leader was discernment.  I think this holds true in youth ministry.  Y’know what, the older my offspring get, the more I realize how important this is in parenting, as well!

When a teen does something wrong, the youth leader with an intellectual understanding of leadership will be quick to bring judgement.  Rather, the youth leader with an “understanding heart” will consider the motives behind the wrong.  Sometimes it’s rebellion.  Sometimes it’s immaturity.  Sometimes it’s the outcry of a desperately hurting heart.  These must be dealt with in different ways.  If you deal with an immature act as if it were an act of rebellion, you can really frustrate a young person.  Immaturity can be guided and taught.  Rebellion must be punished.  If you treat the hurting heart as if it were in rebellion, discouragement can turn into hopeless despair very quickly.  You don’t want that on your list of accomplishments.

Ever heard of ketchup bombs?  Just take those little ketchup packets and twist ’em up real tight and you have a tomato-based land mine ready to make a mess.  I was the victim of four of those early on in my ministry.  I had this pip-squeak of a maggot named James who put ketchup bombs under each tire of my 1991 Mazda Protege.  I was backing up and a whole group of maggots started cracking up.  No biggie, I know, but this was on the day of my very first youth rally.  About 500 teens were on their way, and I so wanted everything to go well.  I was incredibly nervous.  I had a lot to do!  How dare he add to my stress?  I yelled at the maggot in a fit of rage.  Poor guy.  I can still see the shock and confusion on his face.  Now this is an example of the immaturity of a Jr. Higher… and the immaturity of a young youth director.

It can be tough to figure out the motives of young people.  They can manipulate the circumstances of their lives and even put on a good show.  They can play the part of the victim or, maybe, they really are a victim.  It’s all about discerment.  We all need it.  Some of us really want it.  How do we get it?  Well, how did Solomon get it?  He asked.

But it’s also important how he asked.  He asked with a heart of gratitude (verse 6).  He asked in humility (7).  He asked with a sense of awe over the work of God before him (8).

So check your heart.  Then ask.


6 comments so far

  1. Mark on

    Didn’t get that in Bible College. Another great nugget! More youth ministry stuff if you don’t mind…..

  2. jaynepomuceno on

    Mark, thanks for reading regularly. Yeah, more youth ministry stuff is on it’s way. Got caught up in politics and BBQ of late. Where are you from?

  3. Mark on

    Calvary Baptist Church Dickson, TN. Graduated from Crown. The politics and bbq stuff is real cool, too. I just happen to be in the bible belt and the bbq belt.

  4. jaynepomuceno on

    Sweet! Ever been to Rendezvous?

  5. James on

    Really Jay? Serious? Aren’t you embellishing a bit with the FOUR ketchup bombs under your ires? I only put ONE so the other must have been another maggot lol. Still a great memory among thousands I still have from those awesome youth days. If I remember right though the youth rally was a huge success.

  6. jaynepomuceno on


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