Be a Yes Man (or Woman)


Matt Williams

Young happy man showing ok signOne of the best parts of being in “The Fellowship of Youth Ministers” is that we share our trade secrets pretty openly with one another.  We share ideas on everything we do to connect young people to God.  Game ideas, mission trip opportunities, effective faith lessons… we share it all, because we have the same big goal: to allow God to explode in the lives of young people.  So, in this spirit of sharing, I offer this tidbit of advice to my fellow youth leaders that are doing the 30 Hour Famine…

Say Yes.

See, one of the cool things about the 30 Hour Famine is that the youth get excited about what they are doing.  And part of their excitement is a whole range of ideas about how they can make the Famine successful.  Here are some things we have heard over the years:

“Can we make a cardboard village so we can be hungry and cold”?

“Can we make fleece blankets for our service project?”

“Can we do a 40 Hour Famine since we have done the 30 Hour Famine before?”

“Can we ask the clergy if they will let people throw cream pies at them to raise money for the Famine?”

“Can we get a mechanical bull?”


As youth leaders, we often look at ideas through the lenses of the realities we face.  It is easy to let our reality impact their enthusiasm and ideas.  We immediately think about things like budgets and logistics and propriety and everything else on our plates.  But the realities and constraints of our adult world often don’t build excitement and passion in young people; saying Yes does.

Take the fleece blankets mentioned earlier.  We were exploring service projects for 50 students, when one shy middle schooler suggested making the blankets for the homeless.  The logistics seemed crazy: get the material and supplies for 50 students to make blankets…how would we do it?  But, I said Yes.  And what happened?  The teen with the idea then went to work.  She found three stores willing to donate the material for the blankets.  She contacted local agencies to see who needed some handmade fleece blankets.  She taught a few others how to make them, so there would be enough people to teach all the youth how to make them at the Famine.  And 100 fleece blankets later, her idea was reality…and her passion for the 30 Hour Famine was set for the rest of her time in the youth group.

Sure, there are limits to saying Yes.  My “Yes Barometer” has three elements: is it legal; is it within our group covenant; and, would our Rector participate.  This leaves a great deal of room for the youth to apply their creativity and energy.  And releasing that energy is the difference between a good Famine, and a great Famine.

Admittedly, things don’t always work out quite as planned.  (For which the priests that were going to be cream pie targets are grateful.)  Say Yes anyway.  By saying Yes, your youth are not just “doing” the Famine; they are “owning” the Famine.  No longer are they just doing service projects that the youth leader found, or some silly activities to pass the time, or some worship service to endure with hungry bellies.  The Famine become their event, and they will work harder than ever to make it successful.  And even more importantly, they discover the truth of the Gospel along the way: amazing things are possible for people who are working for God’s kingdom.

Say Yes.