Last week a column I wrote for Slant 33 went live on the web in the subject of "Tradition in Youth Ministry." Myself and two others wrote about the inherent dangers and strengths that tradition hold.
SHARED STORIES: If you do an event or have a ritual or keep a tradition over the long haul, then your ministry has a consistent shared journey. Students and staff can say, “Remember that time at summer camp…” and they all have an instant shared story. Sure, each year was different, but there’s camaraderie and unity and ownership in shared language and experience, all of which are like gold in youth ministry.
THE LOGISTICS CAN BE DONE IN YOUR SLEEP.You already know the family that does the food. You know who plays the music and who your leaders will be. You just call them, confirm a couple of things, and move on because they already know what to do, what to expect, and how to help. The logistics are virtually done before you even start. Tweak the flyer, fix two things you learned last year, make some phone calls, put it up on Facebook. Done.
WE GET PREDICTABLE. Tradition can also lead to predictability in a bad way. Instead of keeping your students on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next, they start to ditch stuff because they’ve already done it. Even if it was amazing the first time, the second time was okay, and the third time was, um…predictable. When we do and say what everyone thinks we’ll do and say, we lose our leadership edge in the lives of students.