Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Preacher & the Bear

I once heard it said that youth ministry is like "herding cats."  You may know what your task is, but getting it done is a whole different thing!  I spent 28 years in the ministry and my own definition of student ministry is this: God using unlikely heroes to accomplish improbable tasks.  So you think your job is tough?   Try getting a 13 year old boy to sit still and listen for 30 minutes to a guest speaker.  Try getting parents to sign their child up and pay a deposit 6 months in advance of a mission trip.  Try convincing a 21st century teenager that Jesus knows more about life than Justin Timberlake.  To give you a better feel what youth ministry is really like, I present to you the lyrics of a 1937 folk song, The Preacher & the Bear.  This guy may have been the first youth pastor...

Now the preacher he went out walkin'-  it was on one Sunday morn.
It may have been against his religion but he took his gun along
He shot himself some mighty fine quail, and one little measly hare
But on his way returning home he met a great big...hmmm...
Grizzly Bear

Now the bear sat down in the middle of the road just as mean as he could be
And the Preacher he commenced to shakin' and he climbed a persimmon tree
And the bear stood up, and he rolled his eyes and he shook his ugly head
The Preacher looked up to the skies and these are the words he said
And these are the words he said...

Oh LORD, you delivered Daniel from the lion's den
Delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale and then
the Hebrew children from the fiery furnace so the Good Book do declare
Well LORD, LORD if you can't help me
for goodness sakes don't you help that bear!

Then the bear commenced to climb the tree and that made the Preacher mad
The Preacher climbed still higher- though it took all the strength he had
Just about then this limb give away and they both came a tumblin' down
And when that Preacher began to pray you could hear it for miles all around


Now they fought all the way down to the river and it was a terrible fight
That bear was really pourin' it on, and the Preacher- well he was doin' all right  (Yaaaay!)
He dragged that beast right down in the river it was...ummm...3 times in & out
Then the bear got loose & he limped away & the Preacher he began to shout!

Oh LORD you delivered Daniel from the lion's den
Delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale and then...
Now LORD it may not seem like much from where you sit up there
But the hardest job I've ever done...
was baptizing that bear!

And that's the story of the Preacher & the Bear!!!

Youth Pastors, volunteer youth workers and everyone who works with teenagers in the church, please hear this:  Every week (and often every day!) you are out there on the front lines for God- baptizing bears in the name of Jesus.  You are God's unlikely heroes accomplishing his improbable assignments.  Thank you all.

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous9/04/2013

    Hey dude! So glad your blog is back, and that you are feeling better! Love this post. Baptizing bears. Perfect description of what we do! Keep the faith my friend! - Chris Cooper

    1. Thanks, Chris. And yes...youth ministry is as long way from normal, isn't it?


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