How You Can Fake It and Make It in Youth Ministry

When’s the last time you faked it?

Maybe it was last Sunday’s lesson—you know … the one you really didn’t have time to prep for so you faked it. Or maybe it was at the last staff meeting, when asked to give a report and you didn’t have very much exciting stuff to share so you embellished just a little bit; you faked it. Maybe it was when your close friend asked if there was something on your heart and instead of sounding cold and distant, you invented something … you faked it.

The truth of the matter is you can fake it … and you can fake it really, really well. And better yet (actually, much worse yet) is that you can fake it really, really well and almost always get away with it. Why? Let’s look at the examples I listed. You can fake it through a lesson because you are a gifted teacher with lots of experience. You can fake it through a staff meeting report because you know the measurements of success your pastor/supervisor/peers applaud. And you can fake it with your closest friend because he/she trusts that you aren’t faking it!

Scary isn’t it? It gets even scarier. Not only can you fake it really, really well, but you can fake it really, really well for a really, really long time. If you want.

But I know you don’t want to; nobody does. So here are a few ideas to help keep it real!

Identify your problem areas. Start by giving yourself an honest assessment. In what areas do you consistently tend to “fake it”? Healing always starts with identifying the problem.

Determine to break the habit. For some, faking it has almost become a ministry way of life … a habit that you barely even recognize as problematic. If this is you, do the painful work of identifying the problem areas and prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit for the strength and courage you need to address your areas of weakness.

Find a friend to help. Find a trusted staff member, or volunteer leader, and give that person permission to hold you accountable. Tell him/her the areas you’ve identified and give them the freedom to pull you aside from time to time to check in or to pull you aside immediately if they sense you just “faked it.” Of course, pulling you aside privately would be a good idea. You don’t want them to raise their hand during your Sunday school and ask, “I know you just said you were praying for the class yesterday, but were you really?” That’s not a helpful friend; that’s a dipstick.

You are a good youth worker. So good, in fact, that you can fake it. But why would you want to?  

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Kurt Johnston
Kurt Johnston has been involved in junior high ministry since 1988 and is currently the junior high pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He's the author of Controlled Chaos: Making Sense of Junior High Ministry and Go Team! He loves providing resources for junior high ministry almost as much as he loves junior highers themselves.