It’s always bothered me that just because somebody says something is true means it’s true.
Which must be why back in the day I loved watching MythBusters. The premise was great: Take urban legends, folklore and stuff we’ve always assumed to be true and put it to the test. What I loved most was that even though each test was meant to determine a “true” or “false” (“busted”) outcome, there was a very likely third outcome. A surprisingly high number of experiments proved to be “sorta true” or “partly busted”. In other words, there may have been some elements of truth in the urban legend, but but the outcome was far from being iron-clad; there was some wiggle room. Add in the fact that there were usually a host of variables, or factors, at play in each experiment and it was fairly easy to get a wide range of outcomes on virtually any experiment.
Youth ministry is ripe with urban legends, folklore and assumptions of our own; stuff we’ve somehow determined to be true that may, in fact, be false…or at the very least only partly true. Or they may be completely true! Variables and outside factors at play? Yep! Which is why I think a savy youth worker needs to view him/herself as a MythBuster of sorts. Here is a short list of things that I think need to be put to the test….are they true, partly true, or false? What variables and outside factors contribute to their validity at any given time in any given setting?
Here’s a short list of examples. I’d love to hear if you’ve put any of these to the test and what the outcome was. And, I’d love to learn what you’d include in a list of your own!
– Today’s teenagers are tired of “attraction” youth ministry.
– Traditional “youth sermons” are ineffective.
– Adolescence is a modern, western, construct.
– At least 60% of teenagers walk away from church after graduation.
– The primary reason teenagers leave the church is due to segregation of YM.
– Small groups are the best way to build community.
– Teenagers have a very short attention span.
– Sexting is normative for most teenagers.
– Social media has greatly hindered teenagers social skills.
– Social media has greatly hindered a sense of community.
– The church is in a state of rapid decline and irrelevancy.
– There are less and less paid youth workers.
That should be enough to get you started!