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The Youth Ministry Cycle of Stupid: What Is It and How To Break It

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You are not stupid, but the cycle of planning and programming we get stuck in sure feels that way.

The cycle of stupid is when we sow an idea, hoping to produce great results only to wind up reaping a harvest of frustration. I have been there and, if I am not careful, I can get caught it in with hardly any effort.  I call this cycle of  stupid because the whole process is draining, unproductive, and emotional unhealthy. I hate pain and failure so once I detect that I am in the cycle I examine which part I may be stuck in and fix it as quickly as possible. Amazingly, some youth workers keep repeating the cycle expecting different results. Here’s the good news, the cycle can be broken and you can have a successful events consistently in your youth ministry.

The four phases to the stupid cycle are: The Idea/Creation Phase, The Pitch Phase, The Event Phase, and the Aftermath Phase

So, how do we break the cycle?

Idea Creation

Never create ideas in a vacuum. When I get an idea, I try to bounce it off several people including students, parents, other youth workers, my Pastor, etc. Not every ideas requires such rigorous vetting, only the big ones that require many hands, a bigger budget, etc. The smaller ideas I pass by a few students and my adult leaders. Even if you are the only leader, check with other friends or other youth workers online. Most ideas are incomplete and need a tweak here or there.

Selling /Pitching Your Idea

Gathering support for your idea is critical to getting it off the ground. Her are some quick tips

1. Before I pitch my idea, I try to poke holes in it myself. I think of all the things that could go wrong or possible push back others may give and then solve those problems before presenting the idea.

2. Make sure your goals are clear. What will the outcome be if we do X? More kids, deeper walk with God, money raised, etc.

3. Practice your pitch. Ask your self: What are some key words my audience wants to here? Fun? Powerful? Inexpensive?

4. Put your info out early and often. Use very method you can online and off to to make sure everyone know the 5W’s  of your event Who, What, Where Why, and When

Event Fail (and how to fail well)

If points one and two are are a fail, and you move forward anyway, then point three in the cycle of stupid is inevitable. Event failure may not be in part to anything you have done. The failure could have been as a result of weather or some other external circumstance but more often than not, the break down happened in the first two steps. The case may be that we  did not have enough people on board to make it happen or we did a terrible job of explaining it or marketing it.

Once the event fails, take deep breath and say, “Praise God anyway, I just learned something about myself.” Don’t spend any time beating yourself up because it will do you no good. Pray, think, relax, take some time to process and let God restore you.

Overcoming Negative Image Messages

A failed event or even a series of failed events does not mean we are failures. It does means we have to examine our process of getting things done and do a better job of not getting caught in the cycle. It’s easy to blame ourselves but you may be in a church where it’s just hard to get things done or the church itself maybe stuck in the cycle of stupid. The key to staying out of the cycle is what we do right after the fail including asking the right questions.

When I fail at programming, preaching, or some other p word, I look go through all the phases.

Was this a good ideas in the first place?

Did I get enough people on board?

Was it a good idea but the wrong time?

Did I explain and pitch this well?

Did I repeat something from one of my past failed events? What was it? How do I stop doing that?

Finally, I affirm myself with these truisms:

Yes, the event was a failure but I am not.

Events do not define me.

I can get better at this if I work at it.

God and my family still love me.

Praise God, I get another chance to get it right, or fail trying.

Your Turn:

Are you in the cycle of stupid?

Which phase do you think is tripping you up?

Tell me about it in the comment below.






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