Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Gift For Youth Workers

This post first appeared October 23, 2010.

In the early 1980's David Bills introduced me to a magazine called The Wittenburg Door.  The name was a parody of the famous door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg that the great theologian Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to in 1517.  I immediately fell in love with the magazine, which was edited in those early days by Mike Yaconelli.  The publication was billed as "Christian satire," which made it a kind of MAD Magazine for the church.  It poked fun at the church and many of the people in it, pointing out our tendency to take ourselves far too seriously.  Each month they gave out the Green Weenie Award to the person who was found to be most embarrassing to the church.  The issue pictured here (from 1985) was one of my favorites.  In it they defended Tony Campolo from charges of heresy coming from church leaders- primarily because Tony chose to take literally the words of Jesus instead of their words.  It was a great read- if you could find it.

You see, The Wittenburg Door was not only published by youth workers in those early years, it also functioned just like us.  It was printed on plain paper- nothing glossy about it.  And you never knew when it was coming.  I subscribed for a number of years, and you could expect the January/February issue around June.  Later on it was sold and became a real magazine known only as The Door.  The "Wittenburg" has now been returned to the title, although I confess I haven't read an issue in many years now. 

The Wittenburg Door was considered a subversive rag by many church leaders back in the day- which was one of the reasons I loved it so much.  You almost felt like it should be mailed in a plain brown wrapper so no one would know you received it.  But it was treasured by many youth pastors- especially the ones who were a part of the Youth Specialties family.  The National Youth Workers Convention used to include a Wittenburg Door Banquet each year, with speakers and a talent show.  In 1987 (click here for details) I performed and had a a blast.  Upon returning home, I wrote a song parody of the Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show classic The Cover of the Rolling Stone, written by Shel Silverstein.  I intended to sing it at the next banquet- but never had a chance.  The banquets were dropped from the NYWC schedule. 

So today I reveal to you the words of this never before sung or seen tale of youth ministry.  Aside from changing one outdated reference, it's the same song I wrote in 1987.  It's meant to be tongue-in-cheek; being on the cover would more likely have gotten you fired than made you rich.  For everyone who has ever given of themselves in ministry with students, this song is for you!  Sing along!

Well we're big-time youth workers, tryin' to serve our LORD
And we're oh so very sincere
We sing about Jesus and we teach about truth
For three thousand dollars a year
We work with Bobbys and Jills who give us all kinds of thrills
But we're not sure what it's all for...
'Cause we won't get no richer 'til we see our picture
On the cover of The Wittenburg Door

Wittenburg Door
Wanna see my picture on the cover
Have to hide the copies from my mother
Wanna see my smilin' face
On the cover of The Wittenburg Door

I've got some great volunteers who are up in their years
But they do everything they can
I've got a poor old gray-haired lady
Drivin' our worn-out van
Now it's all designed so God can blow kid's minds
And to strengthen their spiritual core
And they'll know who to go to when they see my photo
On the cover of The Wittenburg Door


We got a lot of little teenage blue-eyed groupies
Who don't do a thing we say
We got a Purpose Driven guru
He's teachin' us a better way
We got hundreds of youth who come to us for the truth
Yeah they're breakin' down our doors
But I'll go out of style if they don't see my smile
On the cover of The Wittenburg Door


Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous10/23/2010

    Sounds like a couple of websites I like to frequent. The first one is, it's kinda like The Onion for Christians. The second one is a blog called "Stuff Christians Like" that has had me rolling at times.

    -Jen K

  2. I love Larknews as well!


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