I wish I read in high school like I do now. Maybe I would have gotten into a more prestigious school and found myself with larger loans. In all seriousness I love reading, I love learning, I love listening to podcasts, watching conferences and meeting one on one with people who I admire. Learning is important, duh no brainer, right? Well, yes, but then again I’m not sure if we are doing all the learning we’re supposed to be doing. Could we be neglecting something?
While it’s important to learn from other youth ministers and from theological institutions I think from time to time we need to expand our horizons. Here are four fields we as youth workers should explore:
- The Business World: I know there’s push back out there in regards to looking at ministry as a business, but I’m saying get over it. If you don’t market correctly you won’t draw new people. If you don’t look at your systems and structures you’ll lose out on efficiency. Youth ministers should be reading business books, blogs and attending webinars that tell you how to run your organization correctly.
- The Philosophical: This is an area I need to hit up more and maybe the reason I don’t is because it intimidates me. But if we can dive into a little Plato, Descarte and Peanuts we can encourage ourselves to think outside the box. Besides there might be philosophers you disagree with…good then you’ll find your mind challenged.
- The Anthropological: Big word I know, but what it means is the study of humankind and their cultures. If we can learn what’s different about other denominations, religions, cultures and so on, we can learn how to communicate across barriers. Case in point, Paul in Athens.
- Story: If we fill our heads with too many facts, we become boring. Too many times than not I hear a sermon or message filled with incredible facts but no passion. When you can study the art of story telling you can take important information and give it in a way that brings compassion. To develop that skill, start reading stories (fact and fiction).
I know not everyone is a reader, that’s why I also recommend podcasts, conferences, seminars, lectures, concerts and film (not television). When we can expand our minds we can learn how to reason, how to defend and how to communicate. And that’s what we need, we need to communicate, share and create an opportunity for someone to connect with Christ.
What are you learning? And what other areas should we be exploring?