Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders The Crazy Game That Will Revolutionize Your Ministry

The Crazy Game That Will Revolutionize Your Ministry

Spoiler alert.

No such game exists.

But you already knew that.

There’s no perfect lesson that will make your students finally get it …

… just like there’s no perfect worship song that will finally draw them in.


No shortcuts in this business.

It’s time to stop chasing the perfect program and focus instead on your students.

It’s so tempting to believe the “right” program will cause our youth ministry to explode.

I spent years trying to learn how to give the perfect message, surrounded by the perfect videos and followed with the perfect songs.

Trouble is that, although those things don’t exist, they sure can consume a lot of your time.

It’s easy to lose track of days or weeks chasing the right programs, while leaving everything else behind.

“Programs can help you teach about the love of God, but relationships are the only way to show it.”

I maintain a high standard of excellence for myself and for the people who work with me. Our programs are clean and professional, from music to media to message.

I also recognize the fact that a healthy youth ministry needs a lot more than excellent programs.

If we become consumed entirely with programming, then we lose track of everything else. If we lose track of everything else, then there’s not much point left in doing programs.

Here’s the lesson I learned the hard way …

Sometimes good enough really is good enough.

I remember spending two full days rehearsing a song I wanted to do at youth group. I managed to convince myself it was exactly the kind of song that would usher students right up to the feet of God.

It went, well, maybe 2 percent better than if I would have trotted out any of the Tomlin songs I already knew and my students already loved.

Another time, we spent a whole weekend filling water balloons with Jello. It was the kind of awesome idea that would make more and more people love coming to youth group.

It was only barely better than a regular water balloon fight.

Not only were my programs still not perfect, I lost two full days I could have otherwise spent praying with students.

Two full days where I could have been loving on students.

Two full days when I could have been doing life with students.

I don’t want to lose two days like that again, and I don’t want you to do that either.

Set some time boundaries and stick to them.

Our Sunday morning program is our largest production, and I’ve created some pretty strict guidelines for myself.

Namely, I’ve got exactly 12 hours to plan the thing.

Believe me, 12 hours, well spent, is enough time to accomplish almost anything. I can write a talk, create slides, shoot a video, write small group questions and even build a great youth group game.

Any longer than 12 hours and all I’m doing is adding the kind of minutiae to my program that steals time without adding value.

Besides, I’ve got volunteers to encourage, students to root for and families who need prayer.

Those things aren’t any less important than our programs.

I don’t know how much time you’ve lost fruitlessly chasing perfection, but starting now, I’m hoping it’s a lot less.  

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Aaron Helman is on a mission to help end the epidemic of youth worker burnout. He writes at Smarter Youth Ministry to help youth workers with their biggest frustrations – things like leading volunteers, managing money, and communicating effectively. He is also the youth minister at Firehouse Youth Ministries in South Bend, Indiana.