Walk the Plank

“Avast, ye scurvy dogs! The crushing oblivion of Davey Jones’ locker awaits! Walk the plank, or feel the steely kiss o’ me blade!”

I can’t emphasize enough that youth ministry and piracy are in no way connected. But when it comes to pioneering a new ministry – whether a youth group or a church plant – there comes a moment when you’ve got to walk the plank and dive in. “Leap of faith” also applies, but as a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean, I like the pirate imagery.

*   *   * 

“A safe place to take risks.”

When asked what I would consider to be a foundational building block in youth ministry, that’s what came to mind. Upon further reflection, I can confidently strike out the word “youth,” and apply it to any age level.

The deeper questions revolved around defining what makes it a “safe place,” and – crucially – who’s responsible to create and maintain it. The answer to both questions is “leaders.” Our example, not our words, will establish the group ethos, the default setting.

Old teaching adage: “More is caught than taught.” Transparency, vulnerability, and authenticity are intangibles. As leaders, we take the first step – like walking the plank – to demonstrate them.

  1. We don’t have all the answers, so we won’t act as if we do. If anything, our group ethos should welcome – and even provoke – open dialogue about doubts and questions. Theirs and ours.
  2. If we need prayer, we’ll ask for it. No prayer or pray-er is too small.
  3. We’re all on the same faith journey. No superstars need apply – you’ll fall off your pedestal eventually.
  4. Know the difference between “manipulation” and “influence.” Avoid the first like the plague, and be wise about the second.

“Everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.”

~ Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 6:40)

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