One Size Does NOT Fit All


Slide1Early in my youth ministry days, I’d assumed teenagers were teenagers were teenagers. My thinking was: now that the Internet has normalized youth culture – at least across any particular country, if not across the globe – it just doesn’t seem that teens will very different in one locale than in another.

With that thinking, I’d assumed that the same approaches to youth ministry would “work” with any particular group of teenagers. But I got surprised when I arrived at the church where I currently serve as a volunteer youth worker.

It surprised me that I was surprised. I’d been doing youth ministry for almost 20 years by then, in churches of varying sizes and denominations, in different parts of my country. So I didn’t expect to be surprised. But these kids were different. And my assumptions about what would work and what wouldn’t were off. I couldn’t trust my intuitions or training or experience.

I realized that I had become confident in my understanding of a youth culture that doesn’t change. I needed to re-affirm my calling as a missionary to youth culture – a friend and minister who joins up with the work God is already doing in the lives of teenagers. And, just like a minister needs to exegete a scripture passage (understand, interpret) in order to effectively communicate truth from it, I needed to exegete culture – the local culture of this group, in particular – in order to effectively communicate truth into it.

Bottom line: one size does not fit all. There’s no one model or approach or curriculum or program that will “work” in all contexts. Sure, there are similarities, and things we can learn from each other. But great youth workers become a specialist in understanding and reaching into the culture in which they serve.

Remember this when you think about your 30 Hour Famine. Remember this, even, when you read stories and suggestions here on this blog! Your context is unique; and while we can still learn from one another, your best ministry—even your best 30 Hour Famine—will be wonderfully unique to your context and your group. Embrace your uniqueness and fly your freak flag!