andrew jones (tall skinny kiwi) wrote a post that cracked me up a week or two ago, about googling different emerging church images and seeing what google puts at the top.
so i started googling different simple phrases about youth workers. and i’ve found the results to be alternatingly funny and odd, quirky and sad.
here we go, in no particular order…
let’s start with something nice and basic: i googled “youth worker’, and got this
so, maybe the youth worker is praying, right? burdened for the wonderful but troubled teenagers he comes into contact with every day? yeah, maybe. but it looks to me like he’s worn out: he’s just left a church board meeting where his budget was cut once again so more bells could be purchased for the bell choir. one of the board members actually said, “why do you need all this money just to play games anyhow?”
so, that was depressing. but makes me think google understands youth workers!
then i intentionally went for something more positive: i googled “super youth worker”, and got this…
well, that just warmed my little heart! i don’t understand why it’s google’s top pick as a super youth worker. but, hey, the super youth worker has heart, and that’s better than the “hands gripped on face” of the regular ol’ youth worker.
moving on, i decided to try “youth pastor”. i found the first six to have an odd and interesting rythm about them — almost a pattern. here they are, in order. VERY serious guy…
followed by extremely goofy guy (oh, please, lord jesus, let this not be the image of a youth pastor)…
followed by super-staight guy (“hi, welcome to my community college graduation ceremony”)…
followed by non-funny piercing guy (is that a youth worker or a teenager?)
followed by a baptist-senior-pastor-in-training guy (“now, young people, let me tell you how your clothes reflect your relationship with god”)
then, finally, at #6, the first pic that looks like youth workers i know: the messy office guy (hey, it’s because we’re never in our offices long enough to clean them up — we’re out with teenagers!).
i thought i’d see if there was a significant difference between “youth pastor” (a term usually used in more conservative churches) and “youth minister” (a term more often — though not exclusively — used in mainline churches). nope: first image for “youth minister”…
spidey? huh? is that a youth minister in disguise? or a metaphor?
at least the 2nd “youth minister” looks like a real youth worker, and a nice one, and someone i’d want to have coffee with, or even hire! and — finally — our first female youth worker. (what does it say that the first female youth worker to pop up in google’s pics is one of the only normal looking youth workers in the bunch?)
next, we move onto a rather inocuous “junior high pastor” (i had my hopes up for something a bit more here!)
then, i tried “youth ministry volunteer” and got this truly odd result! is this the orthodox church’s patron saint of volunteer youth workers?
my final try depressed me, and caused me to stop. i simply put in “student ministry” and got this:
sigh. perhaps it says something is clearly wrong if the top image of youth ministry is a people-less shot of a slick youth ministry center interior (the only human in the shot is a teenage girl facing the other direction).