Monday Morning Quarterback
Pastor Ends Adequate Lord’s Day by Fouling Up Youth Group
By Rocky Supinger
November 3, 2013: 9:46 p.m.
A Southern California pastor drove home discouraged Sunday night, after students in his high school youth group stormed home angrily at the close of their gathering. The incident soured an otherwise upbeat day in which the pastor had lunch with the new President of his seminary and made significant progress toward improving the behavior of the a cadre of 6th grade boys.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” the pastor summarized. “But running the junior high youth group like a presbytery meeting, appointing a student to act like a moderator, actually worked better than I thought it would.”
After modeling the role for half the meeting, the pastor chose an 8th grade female student to officiate the proceedings, encouraging her to rule her peers out of order when they interrupted or failed to listen to one another. For her part, the student seemed reluctant, as she giggled more than ruled.
The incident with the high school students brought an abrupt end to a gathering that had gone remarkably well up to that point. After 45 minutes of opening conversation in which students and adult advisors laughed their way through one another’s “highs and lows” for the week, the Youth Intern led a spirited discussion about movies–students’ favorite movies as well as ones from which they felt they had learned something. He ended the discussion by suggesting students look for God or “the gospel” in movies. He showed a clip from The Dark Knight and read a Bible passage to illustrate.
The problem came in the meeting’s closing game. Some students urged their peers to play the Game of Things, while others sued for a seated basketball game they played months ago. The pastor himself cast the deciding vote for the basketball game from behind the bathroom door. “I knew some kids were going to be upset either way, and I was making a careful calculus about which ones I least wanted mad,” the pastor explained.
The game was aggressive, and several students complained about the rough play of one of the adult advisors. At precisely 9:00, after less than 30 minutes of play, three students abruptly stood up and left.
“We didn’t pray or anything. I’ve got to do better than that,” said the pastor.
The day wasn’t a total loss. The adult education class led featured the engaged participation of three high school students (and one elderly man who forgot to turn back his clock for Daylight Savings time). Participants were put through an approximation of a Soul Pancake Science of Happiness experiment and then made to view the video of the experiment. One participant wiped tears from her eyes.
During worship the pastor led a Time With The Children in which he explained communion with reference to his stole, a gift from a church member that features images from the sanctuary’s stained glass windows, including a loaf and cup. The pastor’s daughter was the only child who could identify what the stole was. “I wanted to make some joke about her being a pastor’s kid when she did that,” the pastor remarked. “But I thought better of it.”
“Yeah, I’m glad he kept his mouth shut,” said the pastor’s wife. “She’s at the age (five) where she’s totally fine with being the pastor’s kid. But trust me, before long she’s going to hate it and he’ll regret drawing any attention to it at all.”
After the worship service, several worshipers groped and ogled over the stole, a gesture which the pastor repeatedly mistook for attempts to shake his hand.