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Should I chew out my daughter's youth pastor or not?


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#1 speedmom4

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:05 PM

I am so angry right now. Please talk me out of chewing out the youth pastor at our church or give me some ammo please.

My two daughters, aged 15 and 13, are at our church's Spring Breakaway. It is a retreat for the youth where they have fun but also have wonderful services. They are at the beach. Today I received a text from my daughter that she would never come back again. I finally was able to talk to her. Apparently they were having the kids play a "Fear Factor" type game. They were playing games like bobbing for spam in a bucket of pickle juice. I'm actually ok with that. It's gross but not dangerous. Today they pressured my daughter into putting a dead fish, head first, into her mouth. I asked her why in the world she would do that. She said she felt so much pressure and the adults were yelling for her to do it for her team. She ended up throwing up and that may have embarrassed her as well.

My husband and I were both in a fraternity and sorority. We NEVER experienced hazing like that. In fact our chapters would have been revoked if anything like that occurred. I just can't believe that ADULTS would condone that behavior. They actually came up with the game!

What would you do? Just think it's just stupid games for teens or is this a matter of endangering the health of children?

Thanks for reading!

God Bless,
Elise in NC

#2 Mynyel

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:09 PM

I'd be livid and I would be in their faces about pressuring someone to do something they don't want to do.

When a person (regardless of age) says no I don't want to do that, the proper response is OK, not Ohh come on it is for the team.

Ooooh I am getting worked up for you.

This happened with my dd in Awana (mind you it was much less than dead fish) and she quit going as well.

I'd be in their faces.

#3 clarkacademy

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:11 PM

I would freak! I would be livid and going to get my girls right now!!

#4 gingersmom

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:11 PM

Wrong is wrong.

I absolutely would say something.

How old are the "adults" who are supervising?

It seems to me that "youth pastors" are youth themselves and in no position to be supervising anyone (at least from what I read it sure seems like that).

#5 jujsky

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:13 PM

Kids/teens should never, ever be put in a situation where they're facing peer-pressure encouraged and condoned by adults. Bottom line. End of discussion. The setting and circumstances don't matter. Hazing shouldn't be happening no matter what. Group situations should build you up -- not break you down. Can you go get them? If my kids were in that situation and it was possible to yank them from the program, I'd be in my car on my way to get them.

#6 AK_Mom4

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:15 PM

Not to make light, but better a dead fish than a live one.....

If it was a nasty dead-on-the-beach-for-a-week fish, I would rip the leaders' heads off. If it was a nice little sardine from a can, well - that's not much worse than pickle juice, really.

And, regardless, I would totally support my kiddo not wanting to go back and I would schedule a meeting with the youth pastor and some other senior-type person. Then I would explain my kid was not coming back because they were teaching how GREAT it is to give into peer pressure to do stupid things. That's exactly the OPPOSITE message I want my youth pastor to be giving to my teens, so we would not be coming back.

#7 speedmom4

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:15 PM

The youth leaders are adults. Most of them are in their mid twenties to late twenties. Some of them have children of their own.

Thank you all for confirming my feelings!

God Bless,
Elise in NC

#8 connib

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:17 PM

I'd be livid, then I'd talk to him when I calmed down, otherwise you probably won't be taken seriously. I'd mention to him that he allowed 'peer pressure' to influence someone for the bad and isn't that one of the main things they try to help kids overcome? :tongue_smilie:

#9 NanceXToo

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:17 PM

I would talk to whoever that guy's "boss" is and tell them my daughter is no longer interested in coming back and why and how upsetting and inappropriate I found the whole situation.

#10 Jhat

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:19 PM

In some cases, I'd just quietly not be involved with the group anymore... But in this case I'd be very MAD. I'd even think about jumping in my car right now to pick my girls up and take them home. Definitely talk to the youth pastor. That's just ridiculous and totally without any value at all. What can he be thinking...

#11 Impish

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:19 PM

I would talk to whoever that guy's "boss" is and tell them my daughter is no longer interested in coming back and why and how upsetting and inappropriate I found the whole situation.

:iagree:

#12 simka2

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:21 PM

Former Youth Pastor here. Normally, I am all for gross games, especially at youth retreats and other fun times. That said, I think this crossed the line and the responsible parties are in need of a reality check.

With all the extreme reality tv shows I can see how it got out of hand. I'm not saying it was okay, just that I see how they got carried away.

Also normally, I am all for the chain of command approaches and giving as much as grace as I can. In this situation though I would be going directly to the Sr. Pastor. I would be very firm, but calm in saying that this crossed a huge line! There are health risks, not to mention the psychological consequences. I think mentioning that this would not be allowed at most fraternities would bring some perspective. Then I would put the ball in his court. I would say something along the lines, "I would really like to know how you plan on resolving this issue."

You will find out a lot by your Sr. Pastor's response.

:grouphug:

#13 Pax

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:22 PM

I wouldn't put it as a health issue. I would put it as a "don't ever pressure my teenager like that" issue.

We are trying to teach our teenagers to think for themselves and to resist peer pressure. For adults in leadership positions to pressure her and encourage other teens to pressure her to the point where she felt she had to do something that extreme is NOT okay.

#14 Teachin'Mine

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:24 PM

I would freak! I would be livid and going to get my girls right now!!


:iagree: :auto: (only I wouldn't be smiling)

#15 rhrice3

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:25 PM

I would be very upset. I really don't see the point of such a thing, and it just reinforces all the garbage that our children are inundated with on TV and in modern culture.

I would definitely talk to the pastor and whomever the adult chaperones were. I would even suggest that they survey the attendants and their parents to see what they ALL thought of the "project".

My daughter went on her first middle school retreat to a wonderful Young Life Camp which was high adventure. She was 12 yrs old, and I made a point of putting on the comments of her app "she is TERRIFIED of heights"! When they returned the adult leader, female youth pastor, and her best friend made a point of talking to me immediately to let me know that she had conquered her fear to go on some zip line thing, but that she had waited to do it til the last day even though every one else did it repeatedly. They were very supportive with her NOT doing it, but dd was happy she did it. I would have been furious if they had peer pressured her into doing it!!!

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#16 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:27 PM

Two thoughts.

1) I would control the urge to chew anyone out. I can't think of many people outside of the first few weeks of boot camp who respond well to being chewed out. It immediately puts defenses up and makes them focus on finding ways to discount what you're saying, rather than listening and understanding what you are saying.

2) One of the things I really regret from my own time in a church youth group is the time that I helped (as another youth, not a leader) with a stunt that ended with the other person sitting on a wet sponge.

No great harm, expect to solidly plant the idea that church was a place where you were in danger of being embarrassed in front of others and mocked by your peers. Looking back as an adult, that isn't the lesson that I want a young person to take away about church.

There is so much room for fun when you are young that doesn't have to involve pressure to do something gross or require someone else looking foolish.

So I would try to explain to the pastoral staff - including but not limited to the youth pastor - my concerns that the group was not taking the long view in how members were treated or what they were being conditioned to. The youth group contains the future men and women of the church, something I think we lose sight of occasionally.

#17 simka2

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:27 PM

I'd be livid, then I'd talk to him when I calmed down, otherwise you probably won't be taken seriously. I'd mention to him that he allowed 'peer pressure' to influence someone for the bad and isn't that one of the main things they try to help kids overcome? :tongue_smilie:


:iagree:

I would talk to whoever that guy's "boss" is and tell them my daughter is no longer interested in coming back and why and how upsetting and inappropriate I found the whole situation.


When we had parents approach us in this manner. Just a "We are leaving, won't be back, that was wrong!!!!" We pretty much wrote it off. There are parents a youth pastor just cannot make happy, and if there's no room for discussion...well then...issue closed.

On another note...I do agree with another poster that a Sardine is very different from a dead fish found on the beach.

The amount of peer pressure is another issue :glare:.

#18 speedmom4

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:40 PM

I found out from my daughter that it was a frozen raw fish. That actually made me feel much much better. She did say some kids did sit out but she felt a lot of pressure to "help out the team".

Some of the other adult leaders spoke with her and agreed that the game had gone way too far.

I am much more calm now. I agree that my husband and I should sit down with the youth pastor and explain how we love that they want to have fun with the kids BUT we are trying to teach them how to overcome peer pressure not succumb to it.

Thanks so much for the advice!

God Bless,
Elise in NC

#19 Julie in CA

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:41 PM

I understand and sympathize with the OP's distress, but to answer the original question, no I would *not* go chew out the youth pastor. A calm discussion with people involved in supervising children/teens obviously needs to take place, within the context of a loving Christian environment. Although you're feeling what you believe to be a righteous anger, not much good can come from nurturing that feeling, or giving in to baser instincts rather than loving correction.

#20 susankenny

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:46 PM

Talk to him for sure, but Fear Factor type games in youth group are normal and usually a lot of fun for the kids. Have you ever seen the show?

It doesn't sound like he needs to be ripped a new one, but it does sound like you need to address it honestly, openly, but without being so angry that it overlooks anything good the youth pastor does do. Youth pastors IME are the most over-worked, under-paid, & most unappreciated staff members.

Susan

#21 Hannah C.

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:52 PM

No advice to give here, just :grouphug: to your dd. I *hated* games like that when I was in youth group. I usually refused to participate or wasn't put in the position of having to refuse. And I always felt bad about refusing. Thankfully there was usually an adult who supported/comforted me after, and no one really gave me a hard time about not participating.

I think if they're going to play those sorts of games, there needs to be an adult who will support and defend those who choose not to participate, so that teens don't feel forced into doing something they consider disgusting.

#22 OnTheBrink

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:57 PM

Two thoughts.

1) I would control the urge to chew anyone out. I can't think of many people outside of the first few weeks of boot camp who respond well to being chewed out. It immediately puts defenses up and makes them focus on finding ways to discount what you're saying, rather than listening and understanding what you are saying.

2) One of the things I really regret from my own time in a church youth group is the time that I helped (as another youth, not a leader) with a stunt that ended with the other person sitting on a wet sponge.

No great harm, expect to solidly plant the idea that church was a place where you were in danger of being embarrassed in front of others and mocked by your peers. Looking back as an adult, that isn't the lesson that I want a young person to take away about church.

There is so much room for fun when you are young that doesn't have to involve pressure to do something gross or require someone else looking foolish.

So I would try to explain to the pastoral staff - including but not limited to the youth pastor - my concerns that the group was not taking the long view in how members were treated or what they were being conditioned to. The youth group contains the future men and women of the church, something I think we lose sight of occasionally.


I understand and sympathize with the OP's distress, but to answer the original question, no I would *not* go chew out the youth pastor. A calm discussion with people involved in supervising children/teens obviously needs to take place, within the context of a loving Christian environment. Although you're feeling what you believe to be a righteous anger, not much good can come from nurturing that feeling, or giving in to baser instincts rather than loving correction.


I agree with both above posts. Chewing someone out is not an appropriate response.

#23 Hedgehog

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 01:05 PM

I think the situation was inappropriate, but I don't think I'd be chewing anyone out. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.. you know?

#24 Janie Grace

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 01:06 PM

I agree with the conclusion you have come to. When you do talk to him, I think you should not say "we're never coming back" -- because that is not allowing any room for repentance and change. If he sees your point of view and agrees, he may totally change the way he does things and/or apologize to the youth for that game and the peer pressure dynamic. You wouldn't have wanted to be "OUT" if it ends up turning around and being a positive environment. Unless you like eating humble pie. ;)

#25 speedmom4

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 01:12 PM

If he sees your point of view and agrees, he may totally change the way he does things and/or apologize to the youth for that game and the peer pressure dynamic.


I totally agree. Because some of the other adult leaders spoke with my daughter and agreed that it had gotten out of hand we don't need to have a "confrontation". I asked dd if she wanted me to pick her up but she said after having the above conversation she wanted to stay.

I do think dh and I will have a chat with the youth pastor and explain how we felt that one of the games went overboard and in the future they should consider the message of peer pressure they are sending.

Thanks for all the advice.

God Bless,

Elise in NC

#26 susankenny

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 01:25 PM

I totally agree. Because some of the other adult leaders spoke with my daughter and agreed that it had gotten out of hand we don't need to have a "confrontation". I asked dd if she wanted me to pick her up but she said after having the above conversation she wanted to stay.

I do think dh and I will have a chat with the youth pastor and explain how we felt that one of the games went overboard and in the future they should consider the message of peer pressure they are sending.

Thanks for all the advice.

God Bless,

Elise in NC


This approach sounds great! I pray it goes smoothly & well.:grouphug: I would definitely go to him before bypassing to his boss, that just seems unfair to the YP. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and I'm sure the youth pastor will learn from this experience.

Susan

#27 elizabeth

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 06:52 PM

I would remove my family from the church. This shows a lack of intelligence and judgment that screams": no confidence "vote. Whoever hired this moron is not playing with a full deck.

#28 QueenCath

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:15 PM

Also normally, I am all for the chain of command approaches and giving as much as grace as I can. In this situation though I would be going directly to the Sr. Pastor. I would be very firm, but calm in saying that this crossed a huge line! There are health risks, not to mention the psychological consequences. I think mentioning that this would not be allowed at most fraternities would bring some perspective. Then I would put the ball in his court. I would say something along the lines, "I would really like to know how you plan on resolving this issue."
You will find out a lot by your Sr. Pastor's response.


:iagree: I would add that you do not expect your daughters or your family to become the gossip, and that you expect changes to be made without people knowing your daughters "told". That could be bad for them among their peers.

#29 Tbog

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:17 PM

I would remove my family from the church. This shows a lack of intelligence and judgment that screams": no confidence "vote. Whoever hired this moron is not playing with a full deck.


I think that is reaching, unless you know more than the OP said. One instance like this is certainly not something I think he should be fired over. There are MUCH worse things that could have happened, and the OP hasn't stated any issues with this pastor previously. I think a talk about what parents find appropriate is more in line with what needs to happen.

#30 Elizabeth in WA

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:33 PM

I think Fear Factor type games are inherently inappropriate for adults to lead a group of teenagers in. The situation is a set up for peer pressure and likely to not be fun for at least some of the participants.

#31 5LittleMonkeys

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:35 PM

I don't have advice but just want to share this as a warning to others to make sure you know who your dc are with on these types of retreats.

My nephew was a member of Young Life when he was in highschool. He went on a retreat one weekend and came home with "YL" carved into his forearm (with a pocket knife that they all used). Apparently the youth leader thought it would be cool for them all to have the same mark on their arms.

It makes me sick to think that apparently this young man (the youth leader) was the cream of the crop and considered to be one of their best leaders. I cringe to think of how some of the just okay leaders would behave.:confused:

#32 mcconnellboys

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:39 PM

These fear factor games seem to have been popular with youth groups for some reason for several years now. They started about the time my older son got into youth group. I do not like them or agree with them at all. I don't think that a youth pastor had any right to make kids participate in such a thing without first informing the parents that this would be the case and getting written permission for them to participate. Otherwise, they should be able to opt out. What if she had allergies to seafood? Ridiculous! These things are a huge lawsuit waiting to happen....

#33 Michelle O. in MO

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:41 PM

When I first read this post, I thought to myself "Oh my gosh, this poor child's dignity just got trampled on at a youth church event of all places!" As parents, we try extremely hard to protect our children's dignity. After all, once it has been damaged, it's really hard to restore.

I wouldn't yell at the youth pastor, but I would express how I felt about his "leading by example". It's ok to be angry. Your child paid the price for his thoughtlessness.


#34 Plucky

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:44 PM

I totally agree. Because some of the other adult leaders spoke with my daughter and agreed that it had gotten out of hand we don't need to have a "confrontation". I asked dd if she wanted me to pick her up but she said after having the above conversation she wanted to stay.

I do think dh and I will have a chat with the youth pastor and explain how we felt that one of the games went overboard and in the future they should consider the message of peer pressure they are sending.

Thanks for all the advice.

God Bless,

Elise in NC


I'm so glad things worked out so quickly. We had a bad experience with a youth pastor on a trip. I even posted about it here. :)

I think a lot of yps are still young and learning. There will be mess ups along the way. By being gracious, but firm with leaders there is a lot that can be learned by all of us. I know that our yp apologized to me, to my son, to the entire congregation. My ds learned more by the way we handled it, and the way the yp handled it. It is an amazing thing to see a leader put aside his pride and apologize sincerely, and also to see your parents stand up for what is right but not lose their dignity or cause someone else to lose theirs.

#35 Ibbygirl

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:02 PM

I would be livid as well. Definitely say something to the youth pastor and maybe cc the pastor he reports to as well. That is definitely not okay. :grouphug: :grouphug: Hugs to your dd's and you.

#36 JMDRAD

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:05 PM

I have not read the responses to this thread so forgive me if I'm repeating someone.

I'd be livid and in their faces over this. Church and church youth groups should be a safe haven from crap like that!!! Kids should not have to worry about being pressured into doing something like that that they are uncomfortable with. There's enough peer pressure going on amongst the teens, why do the adults have to contribute to it???:glare:

#37 texasmama

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:18 PM

Haven't read other posts...

This is over the top and illegal if done as "hazing" in a college fraternity setting so completely inappropriate for teens...or anyone really. I would be asking for a meeting with the youth pastor and pastoral leadership, I believe.

#38 Crispa

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:33 PM

No means no.

No ALWAYS means no.

No means no means no means no means no.

No means no.

#39 cin

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:33 PM

We try to teach our young men and women that NO means NO. And then when one of them says no, we pressure them to do it anyway. :glare:Smart, real smart.

#40 JVA

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:34 PM

Me- I'd speak with the 'youth' pastor then
the senior pastor then
the elder board

for all the reasons mentioned previously. How dare they do that to a child/teenager. :glare:

#41 Denise in Florida

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:38 PM

I would totally support my kiddo not wanting to go back and I would schedule a meeting with the youth pastor and some other senior-type person. Then I would explain my kid was not coming back because they were teaching how GREAT it is to give into peer pressure to do stupid things. That's exactly the OPPOSITE message I want my youth pastor to be giving to my teens, so we would not be coming back.



:iagree::iagree::iagree: (bolding mine) This says it all.

#42 Remudamom

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:42 PM

I can't say enough bad things about youth pastors. I only knew of one that had any sense at all. Yours sounds like a real idiot.

Most of the youth pastors I know are arrogant, think they know better than than the parents, try to be so cool that they show no maturity at all or show such a serious lack of judgement or common sense that the thought of leaving someone in their care is laughable.

Pah. Spitting out the bad taste.

Simka, you are not included in the above description.

#43 susankenny

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:54 PM

I can't say enough bad things about youth pastors. I only knew of one that had any sense at all. Yours sounds like a real idiot.

Most of the youth pastors I know are arrogant, think they know better than than the parents, try to be so cool that they show no maturity at all or show such a serious lack of judgement or common sense that the thought of leaving someone in their care is laughable.

Pah. Spitting out the bad taste.

Simka, you are not included in the above description.


Wow! Unbelievable. :001_huh:

#44 Remudamom

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:56 PM

What's so unbelievable? That idiots like this exist or that I'm honest enough to give my opinion?

#45 mhg

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:57 PM

I'm sure i'm echoing other posts, but that's very dangerous --- the microbiology of it. It's also humiliating and encouraging the harming of one's body/temple. Encouraging a kid to have no personal dignity or respect by chanting on for that person to ingest (microbiologically) a DEAD FISH is just horrible. Its sadistic actually.

There are serious microbes that can colonize a person by ingesting a teeny bit. So, yes -- I too would be very upset and angry.

These adults would have certainly lost my trust in keeping my kids safe. There's an apparant lack of maturity and wise judgement.

One doesn't need a college course in microbiology to know the inherent dangerious and even deadly nature of ingesting raw/dead carcasses and that seafood is the WORST in this department.

It makes you wonder what argument they'd have for not chanting the same were it a shot of vodka. One can argue that the vodka is just as harmful to one's body/temple. This is the sort of behavior (chanting in to do humiliating/degrading things) of complete pagans.

This must be properly/calmly comfronted.

(this parenthetical INSERTED later: i just read where it wasn't a dead fish from the beach.....well.....that takes out the microbe problem).

Edited by mhg, 30 April 2011 - 09:03 PM.


#46 susankenny

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 09:02 PM

What's so unbelievable? That idiots like this exist or that I'm honest enough to give my opinion?


Those "idiots" are people, and those idiots usually make the crappiest money, can barely support their families...let alone SEE their families like most do, and are expected to put up with parents that don't know how to speak to them with an ounce of civility. So yea, WOW! I'm sorry you have met bad youth pastors, but try walking in their shoes for a day, week, month, or year. It is a HARD job that doesn't deserve that kind of "honesty".

Susan

#47 Guest_Dulcimeramy_*

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 09:11 PM

Some of us don't believe it should be anyone's job, at all.

Some of us believe that modern youth programs actually hinder spiritual and personal growth in children. It is nearly impossible to find sober-minded folk to mentor our kids. We have to do end-runs around silly extra-biblical programming all the time.

I agree with elizabeth. We would be gone. It is hard enough to raise children to have a sense of personal dignity in this society; church should be the last place to undermine that task.

#48 justamouse

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 09:13 PM

Chew them out. Use sharp teeth.

That was reprehensible. A dead fish? Dead. That is seriously sick and not funny in the least bit.

Add me in as another that thinks the position shouldn't exist and we would be removing ourselves from that church.

Edited by justamouse, 30 April 2011 - 09:20 PM.


#49 Remudamom

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 09:15 PM

Name me one parent who isn't a youth pastor. So I've walked in their shoes. If they aren't getting to spend enought time with their own children maybe they should stop trying to raise everyone else's.

And yep, imo "youth pastor" should not even be a position in a church.

#50 susankenny

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 09:20 PM

Some of us don't believe it should be anyone's job, at all.

Some of us believe that modern youth programs actually hinder spiritual and personal growth in children. It is nearly impossible to find sober-minded folk to mentor our kids. We have to do end-runs around extra-biblical programming all the time.

I agree with elizabeth. We would be gone. It is hard enough to raise children to have a sense of personal dignity in this society; church should be the last place to undermine that task.


I agree completely. My husband and I left ministry (after being in it full-time for 12 years) so that we can serve God as we feel called, and it is no longer an occupation. We feel incredibly happy & blessed to be where we are now. But unless you have worked as an employee at a church - you have absolutely no idea how much it involves, how much people on staff sacrifice, how much faith it requires, how much abuse members of the congregation can dish out (over music selection, carpet color, etc), and how exhausting church politics can wear on you. I think to call someone an idiot or basically a jackass - well, frankly it is just incredibly mean.


Susan


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