The Bright Young Man Theory

Jay Kesler, president of Youth for Christ, has an interesting theory about the Christian ministry. He calls it the Bright Young Man Theory of Youth Work. According to Jay, many churches follow this theory in choosing a man or woman as youth director. They find the most outgoing, razzmatazz, charismatic, attractive, under-thirty person possible and screw him into the church socket. He shines brightly for a time throughout the church and surrounding community. Soon the moths (kids) are flocking around the light. And the church’s youth program is a success until the Bright Young Man’s energy or ability dims or until another church in the area finds a Brighter Young Man to screw into its socket. When that happens, the moths flit off to the new location.

But the change isn’t very difficult, for the moths, for the church, or for the Bright Young Man. In a Christian ministry like the one Kesler describes, the moths are more interested in the person than in the Person anyhow. And travel from church to church is no problem with the mobility of today’s teen-agers.

The church is inconvenienced some, but there’s no great problem. When Bright Young Man Number One goes, the church board simply hustles up Bright Young Man Number Two and the process continues. Of course, it’s easier for a big church to build on this theory. With its money, benefits, and contacts, Big Church can usually procure a Bright Young Man more easily than the struggling community church or the decaying downtown church. But that’s life and that’s ministry.

And Bright Young Man Number One doesn’t feel bad about the change. He can always get a job. The key is to find a location where no one has seen his bag of tricks.

I don’t think we can confine ...

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