Youth Ministry “Trick” #4


How time flies!  It really seems like just yesterday our girls were getting ripped by the Pastor’s wife in Dulce for flirting with her sons.  I can still hear Jenny and Brittany bickering about something.  I can see Melinda spazzing out, jumping up and down and flapping her hands wildly.  James and Clinton tormenting Philip, trying to get him to explode.  Josh calling all the girls “mom”.  *Siiiigh*  Such good times, so long ago.  You know what that means, right?

No, it doesn’t mean I’m old!

It means I really have been doing this a long time!  It’s crazy, I’ve got kids in my youth group who weren’t even born when I got started in this business.  Twelve years filled with ups and downs.  I want to encourage youth leaders to stick around for awhile.  The average stay of a full time youth leader in fundamental baptist churches is less than a year.  You’re hardly getting to know your kids in that short amount of time.  Here’s a trick for longevity:

Categorize criticism.

Huh?  I don’t blame you for the confused look.  But there are a couple types of criticism that will come your way.  First is constructive.  Whenever a godly man criticizes you, learn!  I’m talking about the person in your church who has been saved 40+ years, built a bus route, taught a Sunday School class and has been married to the same woman for a quarter of a century.  That person is trying to build you up.  They’re trying to bring out the best in you and edify the body of Christ.

Then there’s destructive.  I’ve had a few of these come my way over the years.  Sometimes directly, sometimes second hand.  Destructive criticism usually comes from carnal/nominal Christians.  “Watch out, Jay’s gonna hate you ’cause you swim in public without a shirt.”  “Jay’s too preachy, Sunday School should be Sunday School.”  “Jay’s way too good looking for his own good!”  Wait a minute, that would be constructive, wouldn’t it?  I’ve had complete lies told about me as a handy excuse to never set foot in any church again.  Then there’s the parents whose kids just aren’t getting it.  It certainly can’t be their fault, so who’s the easy target?  You guessed it, the youth director who plays favorites!  Some time ago, word got to me about some rumblings about “Jay’s people.” 

I didn’t know exactly where to categorize that one.  I think in the back of my mind, I thought it might be evil to have favorites.  I took an honest look at the young people I had been pouring my life into.  Is it possible I was spending a disproportionate amount of time with a certain group? 

Yep!  Guilty.

The more I thought about it, I was able to figure out who “Jay’s people” were.  A few summers back, our church had a big campaign to get out 100,000 copies of the gospel of John.  Courtney, Sheree, Buddy, Andrew and Raphael went out with me 2-3 times a week that summer.  We’d knock doors and go get something to eat.  I still remember trying to get someone to try the chicken feet at the Chinese Buffet place on Garey.  I was with those kids a lot.  But here’s the thing.  I didn’t seek any of them out.  They came to me.  “So, Jay, are you knocking doors Monday?”  “Yeah, why?”  “Can we come?”  “Sure, but, just a warning, people are gonna call you ‘Jay’s People’.”

Then when we were at 7-11, AM PM, or McDonald’s afterwards, they’d ask if I was going out later on in the week.  Good night, “Jay’s People” can be sooo demanding!  So where does this type of criticism come from?  I’m not exactly sure as I haven’t had the chance to confront it directly.  But here’s my guess: scapegoat.  I suppose they think that being in my inner circle will reverse years of wicked television and carnal music.  By the way, though I strive to be Christ-like, I’m not Jesus picking three out of the group to join me for prayer in the garden or to experience the presence of God on the mountain top.  “Jay’s People” have pretty much always just followed me there.  And so we prayed together.  Sweetly.  And we did experience God on the mountain top.

You’ll be able to accurately categorize the criticism if you are diligently about your Father’s business and confident that you are doing better than your best!  Constructive criticism can still be a bitter pill to swallow, but if you put it in perspective, you’ll be a better preacher and leader.  Destructive criticism will still be very hurtful, but once you’ve categorized it, you can revert to your childhood:

“I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!”

You say that enough times, you’ll freak out when you realize some of the kids in your youth group weren’t even born when you got started!

Is this the rant of a bitter old man?  A jab at those criticizing me?  No, it really isn’t.  This is a reality I’m so blessed to not have had to deal with for some time.  It is a nice place to be, good kids, strong families.  But if the Lord allows me to do this for much longer, it’ll come back around.  I know it will.


36 comments so far

  1. lonestarpreacher on

    Very good stuff. Good for Senior Pastors too!

  2. James Burrow on

    Very true Jay. Exactly as you say. Whether the “teachers pet” or the Jay’s people” it’s the people themselves who are seeking you out to help you and naturally like to be around the leader, to learn, to encourage,to help, and to just plain have fun while doing it.

    I started taking it as a complement when I was teaching to hear those words. Teacher pet or teachers favorite. It meant that I must be doing something right that at least some of the people were drawn to me to learn, to help, and I was still balanced enough that they still felt comfortable around me to have fun too.

  3. James Burrow on

    P.S. is that the fence we gave TWO coats of white paint in Northern CA? lol

  4. jenmarie on

    Oh wow, now you are really dead. Where do you get these horrible pictures? And now that you have been rendered immobile by some junior highers…I fear that all the down time will leave you with too much time to look for pictures like this.

    Josh. Wow, those are some interesting memories. He sure livened things up a bit. I remember him and Phil getting into a fight on the bus on the way home from Spring Break at Ironwood, and someone ended up geting a soda dumped on them… ha ha. And I remember him sneezing in my hair. So gross.

    Ha ha, fun times.

  5. jaynepomuceno on

    James, so you know what I’m talking about now! Awesome. And, no, that’s in Dulce! The trees are much taller in NoCal!

    Jen, c’mon, that picture is sooooo precious! Okay, Brenna wasn’t all that crazy about a picture of herself eight months pregnant, but, like I said… precious (I don’t know if any of you old skewlers know this, but Brenna was having serious contractions one night. We thought Jeremy was going to be an Apache)! I remember Josh sneezing in your hair. Not much grosses me out, but that did. But I don’t remember the fight with Filly. Who got soda dumped on them? You?

  6. Philip on

    You don’t remember the soda episode?! It was on the way back from Ironwood. Josh was making fun of Brandy or something random like that and I warned him not to say anything more… but he did. So I “dropped” a Big Gulp out the bus window onto his head. Very noble of me, I know…. lol. Has anyone heard about or seen that guy in the last few years??

  7. Becka on

    lol I so remember the soda incident! Josh was sooooo mad. lol I hate this pic too, but the memories sure are fun! lol About the girls getting chewed out for flirting. Hey, Jay! Remember the whole “turning the joke around on the girls?” lol We were practically yelling over that stupid vent and they guys never heard a word! Then Miriam was freaking out because “Clinton liked her.” lol And Henry being all sad bc noone liked him….Antonia is too soft hearted and blew the whole thing. lol Good times.

  8. zaza on

    jay – first paragraph, hilarious! i could just picture it =) also, i dont think the pic is that bad. thats first missions trip in the truest form! you need pics of where the girls were sleeping in the main auditorium. oh, and the ‘makeshift’ shower. lol.

    jen- where did he get those pics? really? dont you know he has a gazillion of them on his comp. he also has a little ‘evil’ laugh “ha ha ha” as he picks out the ‘worst’ one of everyone! lol. jk. kinda. but josh sneezed on you, gross! i remember the black hole in his foot. *shudder*

    rebek – fun times, right! i was just laughing at the whole thing…i remember james bringing antonia a glass of water after we were trying to put the tent up or something like that. and i remember thinking ‘dude, where is my class of water, you have two hands!’ lol. but its alright, i got my own, thank you very much! haha =)

  9. jaynepomuceno on

    Okay, Filly, I can kinda picture the big gulp dump. Hey, that’s quite noble of you to defend Brandy’s honor!

    And, Zaz, you just had to bring up the black hole in Josh’s foot. *double shudder* You are quite right about the evil laughter as I look for old skewl pics. Sorry nobody brought you water that day. But you were a scrub. A fake 9th grader!

    Becka, the practical-joke-within-the-practical-joke is still one of my shining moments! But didn’t Miriam start liking Clinton back?

    Dulce was the best! Seriously, I would rank it right up with my last two Alaska trips. I wish I coulda taken you guys there. I’ve become more ambitious in my old age.

  10. James on

    Dulce was the best! Reasons why that I’m particularly fond of:
    When Jay made Clinton and me practically cry because we had to go to the bathroom for seriously 2 hours while Jay was in the front driving saying, “Guys, seriously, you don’t know how close we are; it’s just around the bend up here.” So we FINALLY get there and jump out before the vans even stopped. Brenna gets annoyed cuz she almost hits us. Meanwhile, us to get scolded, and Henry nonchalantly runs into the bathroom ahead of us.

    The outdoor shower, now that was an experience in those winds. we suffered for the ministry right there. The fun of trying to guess which of the sides was going to blow so we could try to hold them shut with the hooked ends of curtain rods for the guy inside.

    The bringing the glass of water to Antonia to “make ,,,, jealous for real and to pretend that I was after her for the practical joke of practical jokes.

    The ferocious alien bug that was in our room that was trying to sting us so we had to kill it with fake CK1 spray cuz its all we had.

    Spraying sleeping Henry with above mentioned fake CK1 spray before stopping at Perkins just because he did nothing but sleep the whole trip down and back. Literally he knocked himself out somehow.

    Going to the Petrified Forest of absolutely NO trees!

    Two of us guys stealing the other guys clothes as he was stuck in the trailer shower next door.

    Laughing at Henry as he dropped the Costco size bottle of shampoo on his toe walking back from above mentioned trailer.

    Singing along with Jay’s Accapella tape for hours while driving.(while Henry slept)

    Ninja flipping Clinton through the guys bathroom door.

    Ninja-hiding from the guy that was inside that bathroom.

    and lastly, Trying to figure out why that “brother and sister” from the other visiting church were so ummm “close” all the time and our youth group getting scolded for something to do with inappropriate relationships when it wasn’t us. haha

  11. jaynepomuceno on

    Oh, man, James you had me and Brenna crying with laughter. How ’bout these… one of the girls rippin’ one BIG TIME in their auditorium sleeping quarters in Flagstaff (c’mon, girls, ‘fess up!). Waking up in the middle of the night and finding YOU snuggled right next to me on MY sleeping bag! Eunice walking in on Henry in his underoos (why was he changing with the door open??). Goin’ all “marine-style” every time we jumped out of the van (Let’s do this… hoo-rah!). Let’s not forget indian fried bread. You guys fell in love with that stuff and Brenna made that for you guys pretty regularly. Honey and powdered sugar! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

    Wow, I totally forgot about the alien bug. Fake CK1 was the bomb! The cuddly “brother/sister” thing was… uh… disturbing. Remember that youth leader giving some of his girls shoulder rubs?

  12. James on

    HAHA What can I say? I used to sleep walk so at least you didn’t have to track me down outside somewhere. That was the summer my dad came from work at 1am and found me downstairs from our apartment in the parking lot looking at the cars. So yeah you’re lucky. Not to mention you had a really comfy sleeping back and I had a blanket. Who can blame me? 🙂 I remember my Indian name I got after that “Chief Cuddlebug” I forget what Clinton and Henry’s were though?

    Freshman year at college I made hot chocolate and burned my tongue in my sleep. Funny thing is I didn’t have hot chocolate mix, or a microwave in my room lol. Found the microwave a couple days on the floor plugged in an abandoned floor of the dorm and the mix package by it.

    I remember Mr. Rollemma snoring so loud next dooor to us. haha

    I do remember the new baby scare and wondering what that was going to require of your time, but secretly wishing it would happen so that we would have to stay longer.

    Brenna, seriously THANK YOU so much for all the food and work you put into it for us for so many weeks! It was amazing every week and we did get hooked on it. I appreciate it even more now that I think back of all you did for us(and put up with).

    Jay, what missions trip was it that we stopped at Wendy’s and the bathroom was toe’ up from the flo’ up and someone in our group rocked the boat even more so bad that we watched as the staff went in and came rushing out before the door had even finished closing?! Hilarious! I still laugh picturing that poor guys face of death.

  13. Becka on

    Ugh – Josh’s foot makes me have nightmares.

    So glad I didn’t have to use that outdoor shower.

    Hey, remember that guy – I forget his name – that was hanging around almost every time we ate. One time Jay gave him permission to have a bowl of ice cream with us and he got a serving bowl and piled it HIGH! lol Jay’s eyes were bugging out. This same dude’s life dream was to have a cabin in some desert town (i forget) and sit on his porch all day with a shotgun or rifle and shoot rabbits (must’ve been a rifle – lol). Or be a missionary to Alaska because “there’s good fishing there.” lol Clinton CHEWED him out for that one! lol What a weirdo – not referring to Clinton this time. lol

    Pretty sure the Wendy’s incident was that same missions trip. lol Gross. Pretty sure the smell was starting to permeate the entire restaurant by the time we left. lol

    AND that “couple” oh my goodness. What more is there to say. That youth group was a thorn in our side. Remember the poor kids wanting us to come back and do the children’s program thing during the meetings! lol Yum! And the food afterwards. Wow. So many memories.

  14. zaza on

    totally forgot about the whole brother/sister thing! lol.

    rebek- i dont remember his name, but i know we called him “smiley”…i just remember he had on this shirt with a huge smiley face that practically covered his uhm…huge belly?? and that was the day we were ‘shooting’ at targets and people were laughing/joking because he had on the perfect target. what can you say, he does love his ice cream! lol. for some reason the name richard popped into my head? was that it or was that the brother??btw, maybe there were just a close youth group like that!

    man, i cant believe i ‘forgot’ some of these memories! those were the best!

  15. Becka on

    Was his name Quinton? Or something like that?

  16. jenmarie on

    Oh wow, the memories…. Good times. Dulce was so much fun. Remember that rodeo we went to? And that river trip where we all got soaked and muddy because it started raining?
    The last day when Beck, Zaz and I were picking up trash – like Jay told us to do – and we walked around the corner and saw feet sticking out from under the shower curtain and we freaked out and ran?
    Haven’t Zaz and I always said we needed to do a alum missions trip? That would be awesome!
    lol about the “brother/sister” that was crazy… And Jay faking us all out about “who liked who, etc.” Wow…

  17. Becka on

    lol That “shower” incident was hilarious. The rodeo was a blast and the swap meet that went along with it. Remember Brittany “sliding” down the entire hill and poor James had to help her? lol We were so dirty!

  18. jenmarie on

    How much will you pay me to tell who who was “rippin’ the auditorium sleeping quarters”? Cuz I think we all knew who it was…and I’m pretty sure she won’t be reading this… 🙂
    Okay…maybe it’s better left unsaid… But it might factor into the whole bargaining thing somehow… Hmm…

  19. jenmarie on

    I think we need our own alum blog…

  20. Becka on

    I don’t think I know who it was – though from the previous statement, I have an idea.

    Jen, an alum blog is a great idea!

  21. zaza on

    the memories are coming back! lol. i remember a water fight in the rain and mud! lol. fun times. i remember that hill – i gave up on it. haha.

    rebek-quinton sounds right, but then richard did too. alum blog sounds fun!

    jen-alum missions trip sounds fun! dunno if the whole being married thing and having a baby changes things though. but i would love to go! to new zealand/australia =)

  22. jenmarie on

    It was Quinton.

    lol Zaz, I don’t think NZ, AUS is a missions trip. Lol, we could all just take a vac together… 😉 Ummm…u were gna leave the baby for a week and go w/ us 2 Europe, ‘member? lol. I saw Stephen today btw.

  23. jaynepomuceno on

    Quinton? Wow, that doesn’t ring a bell. But the happy face shirt and big belly do! And that was one crazy rain storm that hit at the river. Came out of nowhere!

    I keep remembering stuff…

    How ’bout the first morning of the joke? James was giving Antonia “the eye” and she pretty much freaked out. Henry put on the acting job of his life pretending to be completely depressed. Antonia and her bowling set. “Shut de do, keep out de devil!” Also, one of you girls ripped one in Brenna’s van and everyone tried to blame it on J.J.! Shame on you!

    And the rocked bathroom in Wendy’s will forever live in Youth Group lore (although I have a very recent “rocked bathroom” story that comes close). The manager’s face was priceless as he made his prompt exit from the bathroom. Etched in my memory forever!

    Alumni missions trip/vacation? Let’s go salmon fishing somewhere!

  24. James on

    Man! I am so down for an Alumni missions trip! Core Group could be a little tough getting to every week after church though with the few miles from MN to SoCal. Speaking of ripping one in the van…Remember the window game lol!

  25. jaynepomuceno on

    Brenna thought of another one! In her van, Brittany kept talking about how she was a country girl. At one point, she looked out the window and said, “Whoa, that’s a big dog!” Someone answered (possibly Jenny), “That’s a horse!”

  26. jaynepomuceno on

    Window game, yeah, I remember that. Remember “Midnight Cry”?

  27. zaza on

    uhm…i think i was riding in the suburban w/ the rollemas…dont remember the horse/dog convo. lol. but iam laughing just thinking about it. lol. wendys was funny, i could hardly imagine what it would be like if we all got together again! hahaha. fun times!

    btw, i remember someones name was “three windows” i think…not exactly sure who it was…

    wait, is this the missions trip when we had to stay a night in arizona at the that church? im pretty sure it is. or was it utah??

  28. jaynepomuceno on

    Zaz, you’re right, we did stay in Flagstaff (with no way to shower, mind you). And, THANK YOU, for the “three windows” reminder. That was driving me nuts! Clinton was chief three windows, now to remember Henry’s indian name. One of the girls was “princess break-a-table”.

  29. James on

    ah, yes, Chief Three-Windows was Clinton. Henry if I remember right was Chief Sleeping Bull because of his narcoleptic tendencies whenever we were in a moving vehicle.

  30. Becka on

    Nellie was the one who was the “country girl” who thought the horses were dogs or cows. (It had something to do with horses, cows, and dogs – Brenna is probably right on that one.) lol I’m pretty sure anyways. We didn’t let her live it down for a long time either!

    Remember how Lydia got really sick in flagstaff? She was puking over the rail of the front steps of the church!!!! Eww!

  31. Becka on

    Okay, no I am second guessing myself – maybe it was Brittany. I can’t remember who was in Brenna’s van – Jen, Me, Brittany….?

  32. jenmarie on

    lol, I remember the window game, and you guys wanted us girls to play it too…wow…
    Yeah, it was Nellie, Beck, Brittany, me and ?? Antonia?? in the van? I think anyways…I remember Nellie? I think it was who was like “We’re in Cuba?”

  33. jaynepomuceno on

    That sounds right, as far as who was in Brenna’s van. Nellie never made any claims of being a “country girl”. Brittany was always about being from Colorado. Remember her pointing out cattle/cow grates EVERY single time we passed one? She had to be the one guilty of the dog/horse confusion. I know she’s been on here at least once. Maybe she’ll be back to confirm this!

    Oh, and James, Brenna didn’t care too much about almost hitting you guys as you jumped out of the van. She had to use the bathroom, too. Remember, she was very pregnant, and she wouldn’t have thought twice about killing two teenage boys to get to the restroom first! And let’s be completely truthful. You guys weren’t “practically” crying. I remember you guys really tearing up! I actually felt kinda bad. But I got over it and it was hilarious!

    “Jay … dude … *deep breath* we really need … to … stop.”

    “Seriously, guys, you don’t know how close we are!”

    “There’s a bush right there!”

    “Guys, are you crazy, that thing is only two feet tall!”

    “We … don’t … care …”

    “It’s just around this bend. I know it!”

    *Driving around bend*

    “Okay, it’s gotta be the next bend! We’re close guys, you can make it!”

    “We … hate … you …”

  34. Becka on

    Nellie was definitely the “we’re in Cuba?” line. For sure. Maybe that is what we gave her such a hard time for.

  35. vienessa on

    aww…Dulce, NM. Great memories!!

    The rocked bathroom still makes me laugh when I think about it. I remember Melinda and I ordered food and we were looking for a place to sit when we saw a couple of the guys sitting at table, laughing like crazy!! So, we went over to them and they were watching people come out of the bathroom…making the funniest faces ever! They told us what happened and soon after, who walks in the bathroom, that’s right…Jay! LOL! Jay comes out very quickly tells the manager something and the manager walks in the bathroom, who immediately walks out too with a disgusted grimace on his face! Jay sees that we’re watching and laughing at them and walks over to us. One of the guys owns up to the mess, and Jay tells them that they should have warned him. Hahaha! The manager then made one of the other employees go in the bathroom and clean it!

    This is seriously one of my favorite memories of the entire trip!

  36. jaynepomuceno on

    It’s so cool how everyone has a bit of a different perspective of our Dulce adventures and it just kinda all comes together. I so forgot how the guys punked me and let me walk into there. That bathroom was toxic! How could those guys do that to me? I would never do that to them! *lies right through his teeth* Never ever! *looks up for lightning to strike* Oh, and watching strangers walk in and out of there was too much.

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