The Next Fifty

One of my favorite television characters was President Josiah Bartlett on the WWest Wing.  He invariably would move things along with a simple statement:  What’s next?  Have you recently asked yourself that question??  As we learned in the last episode of the Colbert Report, the one with all the answers (Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek) proclaims that All of life’s important answers must be in the form of a question!

Here is a list of challenges/ answers designed to keep your ministerial life interesting. What are the questions you seek?  What’s next?

Do not attempt to do all fifty.  It is way too many.

Instead, pick out ten that are interesting.  Select five from that list that are actually do-able.  Commit to doing three.

  1. Learn a second language fluently (preferably one that is increasingly spoken in your geographical area).
  2. Create a closed Google+ community for your program, and use it.
  3. Do not do a single program or effort without first determining what the “so what?” will be at the conclusion and considering how that “so what?” matches up against your vision or goals.
  4. Read a balance of “Why youth ministry?” with youth ministry “How to” content.
  5. Describe your approach to programming in one sentence, and then ask for feedback from your core team and/or key volunteers.
  6. Make sure parents understand your one sentence, too.
  7. 50-things-to-doResist corny email signatures that don’t inspire anyone.
  8. Go naked: completely get rid of your teacher’s desk, podium, or whatever other defensive prop you have when presenting.
  9. Do not attempt to make a point without offering a story, song, youtube clip for the  participants to make a connection.
  10. Go naked: completely get rid of your teacher’s desk, podium, or whatever other defensive prop you have when presenting.
  11. Present at a local conference with a colleague.
  12. Present at state or national conference by yourself.
  13. Create a syllabus of your program that’s actually useful to parents and students. (This, of course, assumes advance planning.)
  14. Read a book on youth ministry that seems to reflect the opposite of what you believe.
  15. Reach out to every single parent/family of students and create an authentic reason for them to visit your program this year.
  16. Connect every young person with a mentor in the community.
  17. Flip your classroom/program.
  18. Laugh with your young people, even if you have to play stand-up comedy.
  19. Shred all scripted curriculum.
  20. Have students record and curate the audio from your programming.
  21. Smile at every student, every day.
  22. Offer an assignment or challenge at the end of programming; and use social networking to both repeat the challenge and extend it to others.
  23. Stay at home when you’re sick. Always know who will be “next up” if you are out and be prepared enough to set them up for success.
  24. Encourage young people to talk more to one another than they do to you during discussions.
  25. Throw out all of your lessons and units and start over from scratch.
  26. Commit to your own development by reading. Set a goal; my own is 2 books a month and my daughter is hoping to again read 50 this year.
  27. Read a book on youth ministry that seems to reflect the opposite of what you believe.
  28. Read a book that is being popularly passed around by young people.
  29. Read to your young people (e.g., from a picture book or poem) consistently no matter your grade level or content area. Practice in advance; do it intentionally and well!
  30. Make it cool to read.
  31. Run a book drive for those in need.
  32. For every idea you disagree with, present a rational counterargument or solution.
  33. Every time you correct a student, do so with a positive presupposition that’s authentic
  34. Admit when you’re wrong.
  35. Find the line between holding yourself accountable without beating yourself up.
  36. Be honest at staff meetings.
  37. Find ways to celebrate and support the pastor.
  38. Commit to collaborate with each staff person at least once in the next year.
  39. Celebrate young people’s involvement and activity in the community, outside your programming.
  40. Celebrate your volunteers and the differences they are making.
  41. Evaluate your volunteers and chart pathways for their growth.
  42. Take a personal retreat.
  43. Be able to authentically answer what are your own personal prayer practices
  44. Develop a program where you don’t say a single word.
  45. Videotape yourself teaching and share it with the world.
  46. Refuse to serve on committees that are functionally worthless.
  47. Get off of facebook/twitter and use the internet to continue your own ministerial growth. (Might I suggest ProjectYM?)
  48. Intentionally drop one program that is either not working or that no one remembers why we do it anymore. It will make space for something new and energizing
  49. Let go.
  50. Let God have space in your programs and plans.

By the way, in classic youth ministry  style, this was lifted in part from another source.  BUT, out of respect to the original source (something we as youth ministers do not always offer) here is the link.

D. Scott Miller

D. Scott Miller is the dean of Catholic Youth Ministry bloggers which is a polite way of either saying that he is just plain old or has been blogging for a long time (since 2004.)

Scott recently married the lovely Anne and together they have five adult young people and also grandparent three delightful kids (so, maybe he is just plain old!) Scott presently serves at Saint John the Evangelist in Columbia, MD as the director of youth and young adult ministry.

He has previously served on the parish, regional, diocesan, and national levels as well as having taught within a catholic high school. He is one of the founders of RebuildMyChurch and has returned to posting regularly (keeping regular is important to old guys) at ProjectYM.


D. Scott Miller


D. Scott Miller is the dean of Catholic Youth Ministry bloggers which is a polite way of either saying that he is just plain old or has been blogging for a long time (since 2004.)

Scott recently married the lovely Anne and together they have five adult young people and also grandparent three delightful kids (so, maybe he is just plain old!) Scott presently serves at Saint John the Evangelist in Columbia, MD as the director of youth and young adult ministry.

He has previously served on the parish, regional, diocesan, and national levels as well as having taught within a catholic high school. He is one of the founders of RebuildMyChurch and has returned to posting regularly (keeping regular is important to old guys) at ProjectYM.



Questions or Comments?

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