People have accused me of not liking programs. I admit that I don’t like the word program and all that it implies. But it’s virtually impossible to have organized meetings without programming. The problem seems to come from focusing on what we do to the exclusion of why we do it.
Programs are just plans, but somehow they have come to mean something more. For many youth ministries, programs are the context that surrounds a plan. So when many youth workers “do” programming, they are really searching for a better chubby bunny.
The problem with this comes from focusing so much on the context, that the content is muted. I have talked to ministers who spend 80% of their time working on games and 20% or less working on teaching or preaching. All of this for the purpose of making meetings more accessible.
You always need to consider entry points for the people in a meeting. They need to be able to join with a minimum of awkwardness. I ask all of us who plan for these encounters:
Can the gospel enough of an entry point without wrapping in a context that undermines it’s message?
I’m not saying that context isn’t important. It’s just that programming for entertainment reduces the importance of what we value in ministry. The hope we find in faith is the most attractive element of our programs.
The picture above is a spoon full of sugar. It’s the song from the classic movie Mary Poppins. The idea is simple. Sugar makes medicine taste better and is therefore easier to swallow. If entertainment is necessary for youth ministry, does that make the good news of Jesus yucky. Maybe it’s hard to swallow at times, but I think the sugar is often the unnecessary focus of ministries.