Communication is an important part of anyone’s life. For youth pastors communication is imperative to the discipleship process. For school bus drivers communication makes for good relationships and safety. None of us wants to be misunderstood or miss the point. At one point I had a student on my elementary school bus who was a bit of a bully. She was an older student than the others because she had been held back a few years. Things got to the point that the police needed to come onto my bus. Now I know that sounds bad, but all they wanted to do was scare her a little bit. It turned out to be a comical scene for me.
The police came on the bus and gave their little spiel about respect and bus safety. If they were attempting to scare these kids they were not succeeding. At the end of their little conversation the one police officer did something that made me realize he did not have kids. He said, “Are there any questions?”
Anyone who has children in their home would know that you don’t ask that question. I know in youth ministry that I don’t ask an open question like that. I might ask if anyone has a question on a certain topic, but never wide open like that. In this case, I was ready for the completely random question. And I got it.
Alex, a cute little kindergarten student, sat still this whole time. He was waiting for his moment to say something. Like a jack in the box, the moment the officer asked for questions, he raised his hand. The officer seemed really excited about the opportunity to shape this young boy’s life. “Yes, young man”, he said. “Um, I made a pinata in school today.” With that, the session was over and I was free to take the kids home on the now rowdy school bus. I guess I should thank them for their help.
I love that because there was no pretense to the conversation. All of the production had been completely wasted on this young boy. All he wanted was someone to listen to him talk about his pinata.
Youth ministry can be like this. I know I have overplanned things at times only to be underwhelmed with the actual results. Sometimes the planned message or idea for the night is just not where the group is at. Sometimes they just want to talk about their week. Then there are the other times that the temptation is to have the big production when all they just want to really do is be. I think that one of the most important skills we can develop in youth ministry is the ability to recognize where people are at and meet them there. I am not saying that we sacrifice the message, but rather we approach it from the relational approach. That way the comments about pinatas, or about far more serious matters, are handled in an environment where people care for them and will point them to Jesus Christ. When we do that we make it more likely that they won’t miss the point.
This is part of The Sunday Series “My School Bus Youth Ministry.” If you missed others, check out The Sunday Series tab above.