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Are You Chasing Cool in Youth Ministry?

Interesting Stuff To Explore:

–  Magazines:  Read monthly periodicals like Esquire, Scientific Mind, The Economist, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, The Harvard Business Review, Wired, The Week and Popular Science.  Magazines are great because they are always being updated, super easy to read and provide very practical knowledge that speaks to real issues people of the world are concerned about.

–  Books:  I love the statement:  leaders are readers.  I hated to read pre-seminary.  But seminary taught me that reading allows you to access knowledge– especially if you read non-fiction.  Some of the smartest leaders I know devour books daily.  To be an informed leader you have to read or else you will become irrelevant and not be able to relate with the intellectual, logical and scientific minded students.  In your weekly schedule allow yourself a few hours to read. 

–  Travel:  Travel not only allows one to explore and be exposed to different world-views but it allows one to experience different regions of the country.  Each region has an uniqueness and a lot to offer the traveler.  Traveling accelerates your cultural intelligence and confronts your current worldview assumptions.  Look at Jesus and Paul— They were always on the move interacting with people from different lands.  The only way to really have a sense of how the world works is to see it yourself.  Cultures matter.  Most American don’t travel.  Experience other traditions, music, climate, religions, people, languages, and foods.  Travel doesn’t have to be expensive and is very educational.  Also make sure to travel lightly.

–  Hang out with non-Christians:  Non-Christians help pull you out of the Christian sub-culture.  If you think you are cool in the church ministry world, spend 5 seconds with non-Christians and you quickly realize you are NOT cool at all.  Non-Christians help youth pastors be humble and honest.  Plus hanging out with non-Christians forces you to become educated in why people don’t like church.

–  Get a hobby:  Hobbies forces you to learn about something else other than theology, the Church and youth ministry.  Hobbies help you enjoy and have fun in life. Also if you have the same hobbies as your students it will help you relate to them on a personal level and give you more street cred. So you may want to pick up basket weaving, chess, collecting stamps or building model airplanes.

–  Watch a lot of movies and TV shows:  Watch movies and TV– I cannot stress this enough.  In order to make appropriate translations you have to be familiar with what your students are watching   Teens are inundated with visual media.  Today’s modern pulpits are movie theaters and youtube.  Students are probably getting more out of watching films then they are listening to sermons.

– Music:  Don’t only listen to music you like, listen to the music your students like.  Expand your musical genre.  I am amazed at how much students know about music.  As an icebreaker, I would always ask my students what is on their playlist. 

When becoming interested I have two final recommendations:

1.  Always start with Scripture.  Scripture informs everything and allow the interesting stuff to nuance your point.

2.  Learn how to quickly archive, file and store the stuff you find, experience and encounter.  My storage of choice is Evernote.  Anything I find interesting I jot it down in evernote– which syncs to my laptop, phone and tablet so I can access anytime anywhere.  

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Jeremy Zach easily gets dissatisfied with status quo. He reeks with passion and boredom is not in his vocabulary. He becomes wide awake when connecting with student pastors, thinking and writing about student ministry, experimenting with online technology, and working out. He is married to Mikaela and has two calico cats, Stella and Laguna. He lives in Alpharetta, Georgia and is a XP3 Orange Specialist for Orange—a division of the REthink Group. Zach holds a Communication degree from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities and Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.