When Church Kids Go Bad

A number of years ago I was almost ready to throw in the towel on youth ministry. Over the course of a few weeks it seemed like every time I turned around I was having to deal with another student acting up, and I was getting fed up. There were the kids who came from tough family situations that in many ways were expected to act up. There were the kids who were churchy kids who were being knuckle heads and they knew better. And then there were the kids who simply didn’t care. They were only there because their parents made them come and they were completely indifferent – absolutely apathetic.

During this time I reached out for help. I purchased Mentor Me – a series of CDs on which Doug Fields interviews several youth workers about various topics. God used one of those CDs to really give me some perspective, and more-than-likely, to help me continue on as a youth pastor. The title said it all: “Off the Wall Kids and Youth Ministry.” The person being interviewed was Les Christie. I later picked up Christie’s book When Church Kids Go Bad: How to Love and Work with Rude, Obnoxious, and Apathetic Students, from which the content of the interview flowed.

I recently took the time to read through the entire book, and it was such a refreshing reminder about the stage of life our students are in. It gives very practical ideas about how to shepherd and guide them through the turbulent waters of adolescence. Every youth ministry needs to establish healthy boundaries and appropriate discipline to help students. This book is a great tool to assist you in creatively, positively, and biblically establishing a healthy environment in your youth ministry. (Note: It could also easily be utilized and adapted by parents in the home setting.)

Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry … They Just Don’t Know It Yet!

Adult leaders come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve had the privilege of building teams comprised of college students, married couples, divorced people, grandparents, people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and even one wonderful woman in her 90s! That’s right … 90s! Some of these people have every reason to not be involved in youth ministry. They’re busy with school, work several jobs, have their own families to care for, or have been put on the shelf by society. Nevertheless, they have joined our team and volunteered their time to invest in students.

Here’s what I’ve learned: You can’t count anybody out when it comes to working with students. 

Taking this a step further, Darren Sutton, in his brand new book that just came out today, says “Everyone’s called to youth ministry … they just don’t know it yet.” In fact, he couldn’t say it louder than making that statement the title of his book.

In the book Sutton argues his point by suggesting that many people are not aware of their calling to work with students because of unspoken, unrealistic, or unclear expectations. These, he points out, are leadership issues. He identifies different personality types and how those people can get involved in youth ministry in a wide variety of ways when they are intentionally invited, trained, placed, and cared for appropriately. I love his line, “Everyone has a story to share with the next generation.” The book includes lots of stories and practical tips, as well as an appendixes full of great resources. Every youth worker needs Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry … They Just Don’t Know It Yet!

Order your copy of the book here.

Darren Sutton has served in youth ministry for over 20 years. He has a passion for students and the adults who influence them. Together with his wife, Katie, he co-founded Millennial Influence and produces a weekly podcast reaching parents of teenagers. Darren and Katie have three teenagers of their own and Darren currently serves a student ministry in Texas.
If you are a youth pastor, pick up a copy for every member of your church. Just charge it to your senior pastor’s account. He won’t mind. lol!

What We Use For Small Group Curriculum

We’ve been using the LIVE curriculum in our student small groups since 2010 and we love it! Here’s are a few reasons why …

  • It’s great for our volunteers (very accessible and user-friendly). 
  • It’s customizable.
  • It’s biblically-based and covers a wide array of relevant, real-life topics kids are dealing with. Our kids will leave their years in small group having been exposed to what God has to say about issues they face in life.
  • It’s loaded with questions, not just information. It’s about discussion, not dictation. Questions lead to conversations which foster relationships.
  • It has great features for connecting with parents and students outside of small group.  

Click here for more information, to give it a test run, or to order!


LIVE Promo 2012 from Digital Stache on Vimeo.