What Susan Boyle Can Teach us about Youth Ministry…

susan-boyle-pic-smA few weeks ago, this lady from my home country was all over the media with her performance on ‘Britains Got Talent’. Today, once again I was watching this show on itv.com and got to see her make it to the final of this competition. 

The premise behind the show is similar to American Idol, except people with all kinds of talent, (including singers like Susan), can perform to win a large sum of money and perform at the ‘Royal Variety Performance’ in front of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. 

As I watched again this evening I was struck by a common theme that seems to be running through this show in the last couple of seasons. Here it is: 

Take an individual who clearly does not LOOK like they ‘have what it takes’ and certainly does not look like ‘star material’.  Stand them in front of the ruthless Simon Cowell and a judgemental audience waiting to heckle… Then, with the eyes rolling and the their hands on their ‘elimination buzzers’,  the judges let them begin… This is when this average, ordinary, unexceptional looking individual blows the roof off the house with an incredible performance… and the whole world looks on amazed… Soon, before you can say, “tea and crumpets”, she is on Oprah, Anderson Cooper and Larry King…

In many ways, I believe the producers of the show amplify much of the circumstances to create drama and a greater storyline. Nonetheless, why is this such a great storyline? Why do the producers play to the audiences need to see the unexceptional lady do an unimaginable performance?

Is it because this storyline is written on our hearts that has been played out again and again since God created the earth? Is it because each person was made for greater things, and that God is able to do the unimaginable in our lives? In fact, is it because we all sense that we are designed to “immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine” when the God of this universe shows up in our lives? 

Moses, the disciples, even Jesus himself, were the underdogs who were judged and written off before they had a chance… They were the ones who were marked for elimination at the first opportunity… yet, as we know, God is the God of extraordinary…

So, with all of this said, what does this have to do with Youth Ministry you may ask? Good question, let me explain:  

You see, the students we work with, live in a world full of eliminations… For some, it is: Broken marriages or tough parents, school, friends… maybe the church? They might not look the part or have it altogether yet,… they live in a world of rolling eyes and hecklers. Many of them don’t need a judge or an elimination buzzer since they have their own low expectations of themselves. Even students who come from great families, face struggles and challenges in our world today. Many of them don’t fit the mold of your typical leader or typical world changer, but isn’t it students like this who God loves to use? 

Here’s the most important part for those of us who are in youth ministry… It is our job to allow them to learn about the people God used for His purposes and let them know that God is able use them too… for extraordinary! It is our job to help them move from glimpsing a dream to living the dream God has for them. It is our job to create a ‘stage’ for them to shine and discover their unique gifts and abilities and see how they can be used in this incredible playground called earth. It is our job to help them believe in God and to embrace this truth: He believes in them more than anyone else! It is our job to equip, empower and encourage them to become so much more than the world could ever give them… Make sense? 

Check out Susan Boyle’s Video over at youtube, (currently close to 60 million viewers): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY

Phil <><

3 Responses to What Susan Boyle Can Teach us about Youth Ministry…

  1. Simon Page May 27, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    Great thoughts bro….Good to see you using modern and contemporary illustrations that sit very well with the message of scripture.

    Keep smiling mate 🙂

    Simon Page

  2. Aimee May 27, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    Phil-

    This is a great reminder for parents too! I can get so caught up in everyday life that I can forget that God has great plans for my kids and that as parents we should be the ones cheering our kids on to greatness! Thanks for the insight!

  3. heatherlynn June 3, 2009 at 11:32 pm #

    Well said!!

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