Rotating Attention


We had our senior high Superbowl party yesterday!  Please tell me you rocked the 3D glasses as well?  Definitely a lot of fun, and we had a decent turnout – about 35-40 of us packed up in the loft.  Lots of food, amazing game.  What was also cool for me as a youth pastor is that I felt like I connected with pretty much everyone there.

I spent a couple years working with the after school youth program at the YMCA in Boothbay before moving here, which I loved … but I also learned some great habits there.  One of them was rotating attention; they literally would have someone come in and watch us every couple weeks and count how many times we rotated our attention – in other words, moved on to another group of kids insteadd of spending the whole afternoon focused on just a few.  I hated it at first, but it really built a great habit of rotating around the room; every 3-5 minutes moving on to another group of kids, jumping in, having some conversations, making some connections, etc.  Honestly, at this point it happens without even thinking about it, which I really like.  Where the Superbowl is several hours long, I was rotating more like every ten minutes, but still, the point is that I had conversations with pretty much everyone.  It’s definitely a habit that I’ve come to believe every youth worker should have.

2 thoughts on “Rotating Attention

  1. On one hand I can see (and somewhat agree) with what you're saying about rotating – at least to some degree. I think I do that pretty well, too (sometimes to a fault). However, when I look at Jesus' ministry I see a man who spent lots of time with one particular group of individuals (the disciples) and THEN he had an even closer knit group that he spent even more time with (Peter, John, James). John tells us that he had a favorite disciple, too (John – figures he'd bring that up in his own gospel, huh?). I remember various pastors I've worked with who have been a little too good at moving on to other people. Nothing ever got very "deep" in the relationships with the peeps. People would comment that it was all just "surface talk" and that he would never spend time to really get to know them. I've found that frustrating with me at times, too, when I've had so many and spent only a few minutes with a few people.

    I think it's a balance. Perhaps at big events – like the superbowl parties and the lock-ins – we do what you're talking about, but at the small groups and the Bible studies (and hospital visits and pastoral care situations) we can focus more on the kids we're trying to really touch and reach.

    Thanks for all your updates, Matthew. I especially like your Tweets.


  2. Oh yeah, I very much agree with the example Christ set in doing crowd events, in a way, but then narrowing his focus and the bulk of his time more and more. I'm definitely talking about when I have crowd events the need for rotating attention; if I were to keep my focus on just a couple kids at a Superbowl party, Sunday morning, or youth group meeting, then I would close many, many other doors for ministry. However, outside of those contexts I do focus more of my energies on certain individuals. : )


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