Fish don’t climb trees

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

This is a quote that is sometimes attributed to Albert Einstein some believe he said, some do not, some could care less (me). The important thing is not did Albert say it but does it carry any weight. I think it does

I have been reading some articles on small town youth groups/ministries and I am seeing a recurring theme; namely do not compare them to city youth groups/ministries. The problem is we decide what a successful youth ministry should be and then we try and fit people in that box but sadly the box is not shaped right. I am not going to go into what makes a good city or town youth ministry because it depends on the town. I would be falling into the same trap. Instead I want to quickly give my opinion on how we should judge a successful youth ministry.

VH1 used to (they still could I don’t watch anymore) do a show called Where Are They. It was cool because you got to see where people where at after the hype was over. Some stayed in the industry in different ways, some just left the glitz and glamour and went back to where they came from, and some are sadly no longer with us. I think a successful youth ministry is one where they now work somewhere in the industry. What I mean by that is they are still productive and faithful members of the community. They still go to church (maybe even helping the youth) they did not float away when the party ended. They were trained to remain. Sure maybe they showed up for the party but they stayed to meet the guest of honor.

We should not be so quick to judge based on party size because honestly Jesus said that is a wide road. We should be judging on buy-in. I am not saying a crowd is a bad thing but if they are just visiting and leaving then have we done our job to make disciples?

Just a thought,


3 thoughts on “Fish don’t climb trees

  1. I agree. I have visited/spoken to a lot of youth groups over the years. The best one – the one that has produced fruit that has lasted beyond the party – is lead by a man in his fifties. He has been a youth pastor for his entire career. He has successfully reared his own children through childhood, adolescence and young adulthood and marriage choices. He has gained the wisdom and know how to guide the youth in his group. I wish more youth ministries had leaders like him at the helm.

    Most of the churches I’ve been to hire youthtastic youth pastors to entertain. The better they are at being like the kids, the more youthtastic they are. I switched churches when my daughter was in high school because the youth pastor saw his job as just having fun with them. But my daughter already knew how to have fun, what she needed was a foundation of faith that she could take with her to college. Nothing against fun – a combination of fun and foundation would have been ideal.

    I sat at the breakfast table with the youth pastor and several of his helpers at a retreat one Saturday morning. I was dumbfounded by the potty humor and the stories of the pranks they pulled the night before. Really? Instead of teaching them how to be obnoxious teenagers, how about showing them how to be godly adults?

    In the end, though, the relationship/example set by the parents trumps whatever is done/not done in the youth group.

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