I have been following Casey Neistat’s Youtube channel for a a few months now and he’s a really interesting guy. He vlogs every day, shares his experiences, shares his knowledge about tech and innovation, etc. and, as a youth workers, I learn a few things that apply to me and my situation.
I have always looked at youth ministry as film making. Making a great film requires a great story. As youth workers we already have the greatest story every told. We have the story of God redeeming the world from sin to make a people for himself.
If you have stayed with a youth ministry longer than three years you can see several stories develop.
- Your story as a leader, pastor, member of a community.
- The kid’s stories as young people and believers
- God’s story being weaved through each individual, connecting students and you.
In his video on film making, I think Casey offers some wisdom to youth workers, that will help us all become better story tellers and film makers. Watch Casey’s video and then check out my breakdown below.
If you’re wanting to document your journey, and the journey of your youth, consider these factors
1. Gear doesn’t matter
As a young youth worker, I fell into a trap of believing I needed all the cool toys to have a poppin’ youth ministry. I am not against toys but I m fully aware, especially 25 year later, that all the tech toys or youth min gear are are a means to an end and not an end of itself. In fact, our youth ministry, is pretty low tech. We don’t have a pool table or xorby ‘s laying over the the room. We don’t have XBox Ones or the latest video games. Our greatest strength is not our toys but in our relationships and our love for one another and for God. Leverage what you have and stop worrying about what you don’t have.
2. Story is golden
“Every thing serves the story”
“Story is King, everything serves the king” .
As I said in the beginning, we’ve already been given and are living the greatest story every told, but have you ever thought about planning your year like a movie?
Have you written the ending first?
I am thinking about next year (2016) right now in November. I am trying to write the ending first.
- Where do I want to be personally, professionally, in faith.
- Where do I want myself and my students to be relationally to one another and to God?
- Where do I believe God is leading us as a ministry and how do plan the moments that get us there?
Who are the protagonists and antagonists?
- Which students are moving the stories forward?
- Which students are holding the story back? And what is their redemption scene?
- Which students are character actors who don’t understand God’s story and their place in it? And how do I write them in?
- Which students don;t understand our youth ministry’s story and what is their place in it?
- How do I create a casting call they will respond to?
What problem needs to be solved?
Every movie has a problem to be solved.
- How do we stop the end of the world?
- How do these two people get together and fall in love?
- How will these people survive?
What problem needs to be solved in your youth ministry?
- I want to stop the cliques in my group.
- How do we recruit more volunteers?
- We need to build community.
As you work out what problems need to be solved, write the ending you want to see for that problem first and then write the script that get’s you there.
What surprises do you have planned?
Trick question. We make plans and God laughs. Some of the best lines in movies were improvised on the spot.
- The farting story from Good Will Hunting
- “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” from Jaws
- Han Solo’s “I know” response to Princess Leia’s admission that she loves him.
Last year I surprised our kids on our missions trip by taking them to the movies to see Inside Out. We can plan a few surprises along the way for our students but the best surprises are the ones God plans.
- The kid who came to our youth group because someone who used to attend our group told them to and now they are active in ministry.
- The girls who said they wanted to do small groups and started a small group revolution in our ministry.
- The guys who took ownership of their small group F.I.G.H.T Club and led with perseverance.
- The older couple who just wants to bless our youth ministry.
- The family who buys you a few cool toys because you needed them to play Hungry Hungry Hippo.
- An antagonist comes to my aid after a conflict.
With all my best laid plans I could not have planned these God moments.
Edit what does not serve the story
Think of the last “too long” movie you saw. Did you walk away, like I do, and say, “They could have cut that and that and made the movie much shorter and slightly more enjoyable.”
Maybe that’s what our kids think of our youth ministry. Maybe we’re too bloated with programs and youth meetings have too much filler that the story of God get’s lost.
- What can you edit out of your youth ministry to make the story of God shine brighter?
- What can you cut out of your yearly programming that is muddying up the Story of God?
- What can you cut our of your message that doesn’t cast a light on the main characters of God’s story?
Everything we do in ministry is meant to serve The Story, not our story, but His.
Examine your youth ministry though the lens of a film director.
If you could describe your youth ministry as a movie genre what would it be?
Action? Horror? Romantic Comedy.
Think next year. What would be the perfect ending to next year? Write the script for that.
Think about the next epic story God wants to tell in and through your youth ministry. What is the title of that movie?