Mark Oestreicher: Crazy and Stupid Youth Ministry Moments

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We youth workers do some pretty crazy things from time to time, right?  Call it “the lengths we’re willing to go to for teenagers” or “occupational risk” or just the collective risk-taking nature of our tribe, but man-alive, have I heard some stories.  And, it was shockingly easy for me to pull together this list of 5 crazy things I’ve done.  I probably could have listed 50 things.

5 of the craziest things I’ve done in youth ministry

1. Sent 60 junior highers and leaders home on a 24-hour drive while I stayed a full week with an impounded truck in Mexico.
2. Had about 25 middle school boys in my home hot tub at one time.
3. Tried to keep a summer camp going when about 100 of 120 campers were throwing up and experiencing diarrhea.
4. Rented Universal Studios after hours for a private youth group event (and spent the first 25% of our time arguing with the manager to let us in after a kid lit off a firecracker while we were gathering at the gate).
5. Played sardines (reverse hide-and-seek) in the church sanctuary at a church where the sanctuary was a sacred cow.

as a bonus, 5 of the stupidest things I’ve done in youth ministry

1. Left a 7th grade girl at a McDonald’s in an extremely tough neighborhood in Chicago at 11pm, and didn’t realize it until she was pounding on the door of the building we were staying in, a mile from the McDonald’s.
2. Used a “hot seat” (which delivered a horrible electric shock) on a retreat as a way for junior highers to get points for their team via scripture recitation.
3. Allowed another youth pastor, when our two groups were partnering on a winter retreat, to do a crowdbreaker that was so gross I knew it was going to get me in trouble.  It did.
4. Left a couple hundred junior highers in their hotel rooms on an overnight event with only one intern at the hotel while I took the rest of the adults out to In-N-Out Burger.
5. Accelerated a full van of students pulling a trailer toward a freeway barricade as a joke, not thinking about how hard it would be to stop with all that weight.  We stopped, but my heart almost did also.

I want to hear your “crazy” or “stupid” youth ministry moments.  add ’em as a comment, and whether you see it as crazy or stupid.

Mark Oestreicher is a 30-year veteran of youth ministry, and the former President of Youth Specialties. Marko has written or contributed to more than 50 books, including the much-talked-about Youth Ministry 3.0. Marko is a speaker, author, consultant, and leads the Youth Ministry Coaching Program.  For information on booking him at your next event call 615-283-0039.