The Youth Pastor’s Utility Belt
Scott McClellan – Originally posted Monday, July 27, 2009
No one demonstrated the efficacy of the utility belt better than Batman. And while Batman’s utility belt was loaded with detective tools, throwing stars, and grappling hooks for taking on Gotham City’s criminal element, we imagine that the modern-day youth pastor’s utility might look a little different.
Granted, this is a bit of a cheap shot, but you can’t argue that goatees and youth pastors are a frequent and successful combina¬tion. Guys, whether you’re rolling with a goatee, a soul patch, a Fu Manchu, or an Abraham Lincoln beard, you owe it to your students, their parents, and your senior pastor to keep that thing trimmed. Ladies, please feel free to disregard this one.
A smartphone worth its salt is close to being a utility belt in and of itself. Just think of all the youth pastoring-related tasks smart¬phones can facilitate: get directions to the church camp via built-in GPS, send text messages to kids, check Facebook, manage your calendar of events and high school cafeteria lunches, respond to emails from concerned parents, etc. For the youth pastor on the go, a smartphone might be the most valuable gadget of all.
Pocket-Size Video Camera
Some people like the Flip Mino HD or Ultra HD, while others prefer the Creative Vado or the Kodak Zx1. Either way, an extremely affordable and portable video camera is a great way to capture live events, trips and retreats, and even quick testimonies. This class of camera is easy to use on the fly, and easy to replace if your youth throw you in the pool while you’ve got the camera in your pocket.
Like a pocket-size video camera, a good digital camera is great way to document your youth ministry. Photos of students and volun¬teers worshiping or serving together—or even just goofing off—can powerfully capture the essence of your youth group. A simple point-and-shoot digital camera, if used properly and consistently, is worth its weight in gold.
3G Wireless Card
There are times when a smartphone is no substitute for a laptop with a high-speed Internet connection. Imagine being able to setup a mobile office and receive, edit, and email documents, or edit and upload pictures and video, as long as you can get a signal (and provided that you’re not behind the wheel of a moving vehicle).
If you don’t own a laptop, a netbook might be a great solution to your mobile computing needs—especially if you do a lot of web-based activities such as social networking, reading blogs, or catching up on email. Netbooks are typically light on screen size, processing power, and hard drive space, but they’re typically priced between $300-$500.
There’s no way around it—LED flashlights are cool. They also have a few youth ministry applications that come in handy. Use your LED when you’re policing midnight games of Capture the Flag, patrol¬ling retreat grounds after Lights Out, or telling scary stories in a cabin or around a campfire. (Tip: For a spiritual angle on your scary stories, tell tales of demon possessions and exorcisms.)
Portable Hard Drive
If you’re generating a lot of media for your youth ministry, you’ll eventually need a place to backup and/or store your library of videos, images, mp3s, and graphics. These days, portable hard drives offer a lot of storage space for a relatively low price, a combi¬nation that makes it easier than ever to save and transport hundreds of gigabytes of data.
The youth of today can get wild and out of control, and you, as an authority figure, may need to subdue them if the situation requires it. Besides, some of these kids are pretty big and strong. Frankly, we’ve found that a Taser in the hands of a properly trained youth pastor is the safest and most effective means of incapacitating a young person. OK, we’re totally kidding about this one, but admit it … you thought about it for a second, didn’t you?