What Vanilla Ice Can Teach Our Youth Ministry

I know that judging by this picture, most people would think the idea that he could teach you about church to be silly. And it breaks every mantra I have to trust anyone over the age of five with strips shaved on the side of his head. But I think that as another year of Sunday school, confirmation, and youth group begins, there are a few things we can remember from the immortal words of the man himself.

With the start of each year it seems there is the re-commitment to doing our best. Here are three words of wisdom from the man himself that we can do as a church to better serve the youth in our congregations (and really everyone else as well).


Unless you’re in the rare 1% of church people who are really dynamic leaders, we need to stop with the idea that it’s up to the leader to have a successful youth program. The type of education where one person is the expert and they impart information onto the eager learners is a thing of the past. And it’s only going to deliver the results that we’ve been getting in the past. And that’s not great.

So if we want to improve, we need to stop doing autocratic, leader-centered ministry.


I think collaboration is one of the primary things that will save youth ministry. It does put the pressure on one expert. It also allows for all viewpoints to be heard and discussed (there is room for this in the church at large too, not just the youth wing). The common fear that most pastors have about collaboration is that irrelevant conversation will somehow seep into the the group if we allow more than the leader to speak. That’s just not true. Sure there will be people who say some things that are out there, but if they’re not even allowed to engage in conversation, then going to church becomes an even more passive act and easier to abandon.

Collaboration is the way forward in ministry because it acknowledges that everyone is an expert on faith in their own right. You want to make ministry relevant? Let young people in your church have a voice in it.


Of course the whole “let the people have a voice” thing doesn’t go very far if the people in charge aren’t listening. I think listening is the most important thing that a person who works with you can learn to do. In order to lead a group of people anywhere they want to go, you have to know where they’d like to go. You have to listen to what young people are dealing with, the things that they’re concerned about. A “relevant” ministry is one that comes out of the concerns of the community. But the first step in creating this, is to really listen to what people are saying.

So as the new school year is upon us, I would beg of you to remember the words of Vanilla Ice and stop, collaborate and listen.



  1. I concur whole heartedly. Or as Vanilla Ice might say “Word to your mother”

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