9. Pushing your church’s cultural and moral boundaries.
You must understand your church culture. I know a Texas church that hosts an annual Men’s Poker Smoker. It’s an outreach event planned by men in the church. Each one, including the pastor, brings a six-pack of beer, some cigars, and 200 poker chips to the event. I know another youth worker who was fired because he drank a beer or two with some friends one night. Another friend who heads a large youth ministry network told me she knows of youth workers who pushed the boundaries by getting drunk, going out to clubs, doing drugs, and viewing porn. Know your church’s behavior standards and honor them.
10. Pushing the envelope until it rips.
For good or bad, youth workers have a reputation for pushing the envelope. And that can be a very good thing in the right situation. But if all you do is push the envelope, people will quickly tire of your act. Mark Twain wrote, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” Implement changes selectively and infrequently. Know exactly why you’re planning to push people out of their comfort zone, and count the cost before you do. Youth leaders who feel as though they’re not doing their job unless they’re changing something will soon find themselves…not doing their job.
Originally appeared in Group Magazine March-April, 2003