good cop, bad cop youth leaders

very funny post on “good cop and bad cop youth leaders” on jon acuff’s stuff christians like blog. with his permission, i’ll post it in its intirety here:

#531. Good cop, bad cop youth group leaders.
Barry threw rocks at me.

When I walked to the dining hall in just my robe like I was some sort of 9th grade Hugh Hefner during a youth group retreat, my leader Barry through rocks at my feet until I went back to the cabin and changed.

Barry was a bad cop youth leader.

Patty swore we could fit more people in the back of the pick up truck.

When we tried to see how many people we could cram in on the way home from youth group and yelled, “Go faster! Find speed bumps and see if we can get airborne like in the movie ‘Thrasin!,” my youth leader Patty yelled at her husband, “You heard the kids, let’s go faster!”

Patty was a good copy youth leader.

Inspired by the age old police interrogation tactic (one officer becomes your best friend, the other cop is hardnosed and in your face) the good cop/bad cop youth leader routine is a church classic. But how do you know which type of youth leader you’re dealing with? How do you know which type of youth leader you might be?

I suggest you use the Stuff Christians Like Bad Cop/Good Cop Analyserator

1. A group of youth group members are caught red handed about to pull a prank during a retreat.
A. You confiscate all their prank materials, put them in separate sleeping areas and call their parents in the middle of the night to let them know that their kids suck.
B. You tell them that what they’ve planned is a good start but they’re going to need a lot more shaving cream to get the full effect they’re going for.

2. While on a fall hayride through a scenic apple orchard, some of the students start throwing rotten apples at each other.
A. You unleash a righteous lecture on all the apple throwers that covers Eve in the garden, the insult it is to God to use His creation the apple for sport, and how there are teens in other countries that don’t have apples to eat, never mind throw.
B. You use you’re heightened adult strength and advanced wisdom to throw the apples harder and more on target than any of the students.

3. A student forgets to bring a signed parental waiver for the day at the water park.
A. You tell the student to “kick rocks” and leave them in the parking lot as you drive away to the water park without them.
B. You tell the student “We just throw those wavers into a cardboard box under the secretaries desk. Promise me you won’t sue the church and get in the van.”

4. You hear rumors that some students are sneaking out of camp at night to go to McDonald’s because the camp food is questionable.
A. You search the garbage for evidence of wrappers and use a ultra violet blue light you saw on the show CSI to search for greasy finger prints.
B. You immediately confront the teens you think are involved and place an order for a Big Mac.

5. Despite your best efforts to break down the cliques, a “cool bus” forms as you get ready to leave for a retreat.
A. You create a complicated algorithm that measures coolness and spread the cool kids out mathematically among the three vans your church has.
B. You start bringing big bags of candy in hopes that you will become the “Official Cool Van Driver.”

6. At the lock in, someone is found playing loud, non Church approved hip hop.
A. You confiscate the iPod until after the lock in is over and make the teens learn a “danceudrama” to a Carmen song.
B. You ask “Is that the new Akon? That is my jam!” and then proceed to do the worm.

7. You’re asked to give your testimony at youth group one night.
A. You treat the opportunity like one of those “scared straight” shows where they bring teenagers to jail and at least 3 people end up crying.
B. You tell your story and make references to as many teen cultural items as google could find you, at one point remarking, “I guess you could say my life was like that show ‘Gossip Girl.”

If you answered A for most of the questions, congratulations, you’re a bad cop. I hope you’re the youth leader my daughters have when they grow up.

If you answered B for most of the questions, you’re a good cop and are probably very familiar with the phrase, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission.”

The best youth leaders I had growing up were a hybrid of both. Able to be an adult and keep things moving in the right direction but not afraid to laugh and admit how fun a life spent with God can be.

How did you score? Were you straight A’s or straight B’s or somewhere in between? Did you have good cop or bad cop youth leaders?

What’s your favorite bad cop or good cop youth leader story?

4 thoughts on “good cop, bad cop youth leaders”

  1. I was in youth group when Saturday Night Live was starting (mid 1970s), and there was the parody of 60 Minutes'”Point, Counterpoint”, with Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtain. Dan called Jane “You Ignorant slut” in the skit, and thereafter, to this very day, when I meet someone new, (my name is Jane), I get called an ignorant slut. My “good cop” youth leader and I did a parody of that in the youth newsletter, and he called me an “insolent mutt”, a bit cleaned up for the audience, but “cool” in it’s own way.

  2. Favorite story:

    We did a one day spring retreat at a local hotel. We ended up wrapping up early because of a snowstorm rolling in. At the end of the night, while we were waiting for parents to pick up students, there was a wedding reception going on across the hall from our meeting room, and we could hear the music in the hall. So, a bunch of the students were dancing, thinking the people inside couldn’t see us (there were curtains drawn). Turns out, they COULD see us, and invited us in! So, being a good, responsible youth sponsor, what do I do? I join in crashing the wedding! Just for one song, and then someone from our group chased us out, I don’t remember who.

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