Monday, December 9, 2013

Ministry Monday: The Untold Stories

It's Monday morning and this post could easily devolve into a rant about the power of sports. But it won't. If you follow college football, or just listen to ESPN radio casually (like I do), and you have heard the name of Jameis Winston recently. He's the star quarterback of the #1 ranked Florida State Seminoles. He's also the young man who was accused of raping a female college student last year. 

It's being talked about (a lot) by the ESPN talking heads because Jameis is a candidate for the Heismann trophy, the biggest award in college sports. It's being talked about because Jameis is the quarterback for a team likely to be in the national championship game. So ESPN was talking about the court case, only in connection with how it would affect the championship game and the potential award. 

I don't want to get into the nitty gritty of it all. Like I said, this post could quickly devolve into hating on sports and the industry it has become. That's not my purpose...today. But there is another side to this story. Hers. But sports talk Radio doesn't care to cover that side. I get that. Their focus is sports and he is the athlete. 

But if all you listen to is sports radio, her voice will remain silent, especially now that the case has been dropped due to lack of evidence. I'm not arguing that point at all. But it did leave me wondering;

What are the voices that are silent in your youth group? What are the stories that are going untold in your weekly gatherings? Is there more to the lives behind the smiles that come your way week after week?

I can answer that last question most easily. There is always more to the lives behind the smiles. 

Each of my teens is walking in with an untold story. They aren't reporting on the darker side. They want to tell about the good side. They want to discuss the home run, the hard-earned 'A', Much like a Facebook wall proudly tells of our successes, but not our failures. 

So how can we hear the stories?

Have Multiple Outlets

I don't know about the size of your ministry. You may not get to hear every story. Even in a smaller group, hearing every story would be difficult. But even if your main task is on the stage, ensure that someone is hearing the stories. 

Much like the focus of ESPN is sports news, other stations will be reporting on the legal side of this story. Make sure you have multiple people engaging in listening to stories. 

Ask Multiple Questions

You won't get the inside scoop by asking, "What's up?" Hard hitting journalists don't get to the bottom of stories by asking, "How's it going?" You'll have to ask the starting questions and then be prepared to follow up with a second and third question. Some teens may spill just by giving them a knowing look, but others will be hard nuts, involving multiple tools to crack them open. 

Use Multiple Opportunities

Some teens will share everything they can in the 30 seconds they have before youth group starts. Others would prefer a one-on-one throughout the week. Some will want a texting conversation while others will email long sagas of their recent journey. 

Besides knowing how they tick, you will need to make yourself available in a myriad of ways and plenty of places. The Church office isn't for everyone. 

The untold stories are often the ones that need to be told. These are my suggestions. What would you add? 

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