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The Worst Youth Ministry Video Goof in History

 —  September 22, 2008 — 59 Comments

This is a story I plan on sharing often … because this was one of the most painful media moments we’ve ever had in our high school service. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced something painful like this? This one feels historic.

Kurt suggested I use a clip from the movie Tommy Boy to illustrate kindness this weekend. His team had cut a funny little clip from the movie where the two main characters are on the lake in a sailboat on a perfectly calm day. Some kids yell at them from the shore and are unkind. Sounds great – I didn’t bother to watch the clip ahead of time – so one of our guys just grabbed it and dropped it into ProPresenter before the service so we were all set.

Little did we know someone had uploaded the full clip of the scene and not the tightly-edited one we were supposed to use for the weekend. Yup.

So I’m in the first 1/3rd of my talk, and set up the clip. The clip starts and the first line is Chris Farley talking about his grandpa always teasing him about “playing with his dingy.” I obviously cringed at that, but it gets worse. Way worse. As the clip goes on, one of the bullying kids yells insults from the shore – one of them being about the limp sail and comparing it to the main character’s … uh … yeah. So the last word of the clip we played was this one minus “sporting goods.” Lovely.

So the screen goes dark, and the lights come up on me and I’m like a deer stuck in the headlights. There was some nervous laughter, some gasps and a profuse apology. Wow, as I type this, I’m still stunned at how traumatizing that was. I found some of the scene online for you to enjoy and feel my pain:

I have never experienced a worse media moment in my entire youth ministry experience. There was only a couple ways the whole situation could be worse – a) it could have been at a parent’s meeting instead of youth group, or b) if our senior pastor had just walked in to watch the service. I’ve heard of some great goofs in HSM’s storied past – but this one has to make the cut as one of the worst.

Oh, one last comment – I asked our guys to find a picture that represented “friendship” for a heartfelt ending to the talk. They came up with this picture through a Google Images search, a typical method we use to toss media on the screen. So in addition to playing a video clip that had 2 sexual references we showed a picture of a girl that was abducted in Aruba in 2005 as a symbol of friendship.

What a weekend.


Josh Griffin


59 responses to The Worst Youth Ministry Video Goof in History

  1. Wow- Part of me thinks that is the funniest story I’ve heard in awhile and another part cannot imagine what I would do if ever in a similar situation.

    On the bright side- every student there will always remember that talk.

  2. even better one was a friend who was recommended a video for a small kid’s birthday party – they didn’t preview – they flicked it on and left the kids in front of it – the title they got was very slightly different – and porn… very ‘educational’ and made for ‘great’ conversations with the other parents

    feel your pain
    we need these stories to remind us to watch what we’re doing!

  3. yep…live by tech stuff…die by it. at our young kidz overnighter (that should have been a clue) last month we showed TMNT and well i think it was like 1:30 into the movie the word is used d*$n (and about another dozen times in the following 3 minutes) all the little ones look at me since i was tech guy. our kidz guy had picked the flick but of course he had just run home to pick up something. so the next morning what was the memorable moment for the kiddies when the parents came to pick them up? we watched a movie with the d*$n word in it. mild by comparison. but hey…well done! if we’re going to stumble let’s make it worth the while and something to learn from. for us (and i’m guessing for jg & co…pre-screening is a must.

  4. i’m feeling ya man.
    of course, none of those kids had ever hear any of the those words since they are only in high school.
    It’s got me thinking.
    why is it that something we don’t consider shocking outside our church gatherings is so tramatic when it’s actually there? A moment of real life flutters in the door, at our hand, and inside it eats us up and our skin crawls…

    oh yeah.. we get paid for this.

  5. I went with my brother one time when he was going to speak at a youth lock-in. I cued up his video clip in their VCR (it was several years ago). Right before service their youth pastor decides to put in a tape with music videos to “get everyone in the mood” as they are coming in. So he takes my tape out, and later puts it back in. I have no idea what happened.

    So during his message my brother says, “watch this clip and see what I’m talking about”…the first word from the screen was “G-d**mit”. I immediately hit stop. The Senior Pastor had just walked into the back of the room. You could hear a pin drop.


  6. All I can type is, “Wow”

  7. Hey man, good to know your human, ya I know. Those moments are just crazy mood killers and I hate when they happen in the mix of a youth scene. Thank heavens (does anyone still say that) there’s 51 more weekends left till next year. We are in this together, have a great week man.

  8. Wow… that is awesome.

  9. 13 years ago… it’s my first run at ft yth min as a MS pastor and I’m invited to speak at a local christian school. picture vhs pre dvd era…

    i’ve cued up planes trains and automobiles for the scene where john candy has driven the wrong way and when steve martin realizes it he sees two semi’s cresting the hill barreling straight toward them.

    the scene is hilarious as they split the trucks and there’s flashed of candy in a devil costume and both as skeletons

    well, just before they part the two rigs steve martin yells, “oh sh__!”
    yeah, i rewinded it too far.

    it was rough to say the least, the principal and my cohorts laughed about it and knew my pain far exceeded any need for further discussion

  10. hahahahahaha!!

    not quite as bad as the tent/tit pincher guy, but this is good.

  11. That is amazingly painful and funny all at the same time. That’s why we have great outlet’s like MTDB.com to come and share with people who can feel our pain…and laugh at/with us too!
    Have a great week!

  12. I’m still dying a bit inside … laughing too … oh man …


  13. That might be one of the best stories ever. Nice work, J :)

  14. TOO hysterical! I love that scene.

  15. Oh my…That was funny…sorry it was you who had to experience it :)

  16. this makes my heart hurt for you josh…but sooo funny!!!
    Note to self: never show Tommy Boy at church.
    2nd Note to Self: preview video’s before showing…especially ones recommended by Kurt. haha

  17. I showed a clip one time in the adult service from “Extreme Days” where they were in the grocery store and as they walked out they gave the groceries to that needy family. Well, someone rewound it to far and we caught the tail end of the scene before it where the guys were lighting their farts. That was kind of embarrassing as well.

    Oh well, it just goes to show that we are all human. Thank God for His grace!

  18. Yeah, that’s a fun moment … lol …

    I want to see the footage of your reaction when the clip ended!!! : )

  19. We’re here for ya man! we’ve all done something like that! Keep up the good work…chances are most kids weren’t even awake anyways! haha

  20. So we had just shown a video at our lockin and I was up in the video booth and thought since there was some free time, I would show some fnny clips. After a few goofy ones I decided to show a comedy scetch of Demetri Martin by randomly selecting a google video. All of the clips I had seen of him before were clean. No bad language…just a Mitch Hedburg with pictures and a guitar. In his first joke of this clip he drops the F Bomb…thus ending my funny video bit.

    We also drama group at our church once. This guy gets up to explain the upcoming skit. His line was supposed to be this “the next thing we have for you is a short skit called Ashamed”…you can imagine how that came out.

  21. First Sunday night at our new church I played a clip from the new superman, not realizing the baseball announcer says “what the H*&% is that?” Great way to start off a new youth ministry. Oh well I feel for ya.

  22. I had a bit of that once when I was using a scene from the Breakfast Club and I didn’t hit the pause button soon enough to stop one of the characters from dropping the F bomb.

  23. You can call that an Epic Fail!

  24. Sounds like the beginning of a new resource…

    I Know What You Did at Your Youth Ministry,
    horror stories they wish had happened to somebody else

  25. right after hurricane rita, some parents asked me to take their kids to a movie… and i did, not knowing what the movie was about… first 10 minutes there were 2 sex scenes with full frontal nudity… not good, especially since the family and my sr pastor’s family were staying together while my sr pastors house was being repaired and he heard why we left early… i almost lost my job after 3 weeks.

    sr pastor was showing a clip from ransom and worked with the sound guy to mute out all the cuss words… after running through it perfectly 5 times… he okayed it for his sermon… during the service, the sound guy got nervous and missed the cue and freaked out and muted out all but the cuss words…. oh what a day!

  26. One time @ Camp I was speaking to Middle Schoolers and well there was this squirrel dropping their acorns in on the tin roof of the setting we were in. I happened in the middle of my talk say:

    “Hey squirrel, take your nuts and leave.” Well afterwords .. all went downhill (Still don’t know whether it was a boy squirrel or not)

    Talk about mis-speaking.

  27. that can best be summed up in the words from Chris Farley…
    That’s gonna leave a mark!

  28. my “best” stories involve words that have come out of MY mouth, not out of the mouths of actors on a DVD. and no, i won’t share them here. but i do feel your pain!

  29. Oh boy… cringing for you! Will pray that everyone has a sense of humor about it.

  30. Yeah, one time I made the rookie mistake of letting kids pick a video to watch during a lock-in…their exact words:

    “Hey, Bliss – it’s PG-13.”

    I was busy, said “Fine, whatever.”

    Three hours later there is a part in High School High with some lady spinning tassels round and round from her…well, you get the idea.

    After the movie was over, I stopped the DVD and said, “Well, it’s been really fun being your youth pastor…”

  31. That’s what you get for trusing a junior high youth worker!

  32. Well as a pastor that talked about the “breasts of the field” just last week from the pulpit :) I think you did just fine. Now if they had a video of the entire event?!?!?! I couldn’t say beast fast enough, only MY WIFE, a decon’s wife and the single guy on the front row couldn’t stop laughing at me. I feel your pain. Just not on your scale. Maybe it runs in our genes?

  33. Oh my gosh, I am cracking up so bad. This will go down in history. They’ll replay it at your retirement party.

  34. i have seen alot of things in my life but… that… was…. awesome!! oh man….. oh, yeah, i mean that sucks, sorry bro.

  35. Josh People know your heart and that of your team! I just had an overnight and I have a lamp that looks like a flame, I wanted it to represent God in our midst, but it got left on and to on onlooker outside the church at 10 pm it looked like a fire! No doors were broken down, no water in the student room, but man it could have been bad. Elders not happy, needless to say the lamp is no goint to be in the window anymore!

    Peace Bro

  36. That is milk-through-the-nose funny. I’m so sharing it!
    I especially love the fact it was a clip from Tommy Boy. That is darn close to my favorite movie.

  37. dude… that was nothing. When I was a ms pastor… I wanted to show the depth of relationships and friendships that will last… so I picked a clip from forest gump. It’s the clip where he goes in and rescues bubba. I didn’t watch it first… just cued it up and played it. I don’t remember if it was after the 1st or 2nd “F-bomb” that I decided to turn it off. The next words out of my mouth were… “well… you get the idea.” I looked up and saw some parents in the back of the room. I think I peed a little right there.

  38. Ok…So my first Lock -In at the church I am at now. 4 years ago. I have a couple of great Youth workers who help me plan it. We coincide with the Fall Ahead clock changing. SO I ask the one youth leader to get a couple movies. He has done as many lock in’s as I have.

    So I am doing the score tabulations from our Bowling outing as they all watch a movie before the 3 AM lights out (we have to be at church at 7:45 Am) so I walk in to a movie I had never scene, but seemed fine. I say to Erik…Hey I never knew Cameron Diaz and Crhistina Applegate were in a movie togther, what is it called.

    He tells me “The Sweetest Thing” it is a story about friends driving to a third friends wedding. I say oh ok, sounds safe enough. I go back to get things together and walk back into the room to pause the movie and I see a bathroom scene portion where somehow They get soaked and try to dry off with the hand dryer. I pause it thinking well at least it is just slapstick and noting too bad.

    Do the awards. Announce the sleep room is open for those who want to sleep. Then press play, go to the bathroom, come back and see that the two characheters are in a car in just underwear and interacting with a biker on the road.

    I KILL THE MOVIE and it is now a policy that all movies must be PG 13 or less and is possible edited for TV versions if there is a question.

  39. Josh, a little late….but this just happened to me and last night and afterward I totally thought of you.

    Had my video guy cue up a scene from The Bucket List when they are on the plane and having a conversation on faith and what do you believe in. Should have been a powerful moment. Unfortunately he cued up about 30 seconds too early, at the implied sex scene between Jack Nicholson and the flight attendant…as she walks out of the bathroom buttoning up her shirt and he sneeks out behind her. Not cool. I told them the exact moment to start the video and end it and even had written out the first line that should start the clip….but it didn’t work out like that.
    So i totally twittered last night afterward and had to mention you man.

  40. Oh man, that’s painful! Wow …


  41. I know it’s a little late but I’m just catching up on all of the posts. I made a mistake in my first year before the movie even started. We did an outreach movie night where our high schoolers could invite friends to watch a movie at the church. The name of the event was Friday Night Flicks. (which sounds bad on it’s own) When I was creating the fliers I used a certain font to make it more appealing. I printed it out and gave it to the administrative assistant without looking at it. She sent it to all the high school students. The problem was that in the word “Flicks” the L connected to the I which made the two look like a U. So I had just invited 130 high school students to “Friday Night F***” I never knew until the some parents called and made fun of me!

  42. Again, I’m late! Oh well.

    A good resource is to get a ClearPlay DVD player (www.clearplay.com). It is a DVD subscription service that will automatically bypass sexuality, nudity, language and other content based on your own settings. What’s great about it is that you use any DVD that you would buy/rent, but the player itself has a file that tells it when to go silent for a word or phrase, where to fast forward and etc.

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