The danger of details

My youth ministry's winter retreat is rapidly approaching. As part of this, each adult leader gives a short devotion in response to a prompt related to our theme.

The beauty of this is that it allows each leader a moment in the spotlight, something that gives them ownership of our winter retreat. By sharing a part of their story during their devotion, leaders also build connections and bridges with teens. Often, what is shared during devotions is not something teens already know about leaders.

This year, our theme is vulnerability in relationships – specifically relationships with friends and families.

I'll admit, asking leaders to give a devotion about that kind of topic can be dangerous. After all, you never know what someone will choose to share.

To help mitigate this risk, each year, I give leaders the same advice: Share vulnerably, but leave out the details.

You see, details are what get you into trouble.

Too many details make teens downright uncomfortable. There are simply things about your life that teens don't need – or want – to know. Sharing too many details can make you go from a “nice guy” who serves in the youth ministry to a “creepy old man.”

Too many details can also cause teens to lose respect for you. When you share too many details, teens feel as though you're trying too hard to be their friend. And most teens already have friends. What they may not have in their lives are adults who love, care about, and honor them. One of the ways you can honor teens is by NOT trying to treat them as a friend with whom you'd share all the details of your life.

So how do you decide what details to share?

Read the rest of this article here. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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