The hottest show on cable TV in the US is a show called “Pawn Stars”. It revolves around a guy – Rick Harrison along with his father, Richard “The Old Man” Harrison, his son, Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison” and family friend Austin “Chumlee” Russell. Harrison gives viewers a behind-the-scenes peek into his Las Vegas business the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. In the process, he educates audiences on the history behind many of the unique items sold in the store. The show offers several useful analogies for anyone working with teens.
1.) Face To Face - Every person who comes into the pawn shop is greeted and treated well. They don’t just text, email or facebook the people they are dealing with – it’s all done face to face and that makes it more real. They look people in the eye and tell them what they have and what they can offer them. How many times do teens show up telling us what they are dealing with? Are we offering them the truth of the Catholic faith and pointing them to the reality of the Love of God for them? We have a lot to offer them and it’s usually best when communicated face to face!
2.) History Lessons - Most of the items brought in have some sort of historical background. The show is great about telling the where, whens and hows of each item. Often times in youth ministry we assume that the teens know the faith already and forget to connect them to the history of the Church, Bible and Salvation History. The unique item we are looking at will come more alive if we help teens understand the history behind it. Are you taking the time to educate teens about the history of our faith?
3.) Keep it Real - A lot of the time they will bring in an expert to authenticate that the item is real and what value it might have. They always have the person selling the item present to hear what the history and value of the item is. Afterward they offer the seller a value for what they would pay for the item today. They let the person know what margin and the amount of time it will take to resell the item. The seller then decides if it is worth selling it for that or if they want to hold on to it. Keeping it real in youth ministry is so important – if your youth night bombs, then tell the teens that it bombed. If a teen asks you a direct question, answer it openly. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you don’t know and that you will find out for them. The more real you keep it, the more the teens will trust the ministry at your parish.
4.) Teams and Mentors - Often times on the show they ask for another family members opinion about an item. Most of the time it’s the opinion of someone older who may have more knowledge about a particular item. They don’t try to come across as having all the answers. The older people on the show mentor the younger ones and even let them make mistakes so they can learn from them. Is youth ministry at your parish a team event, with you allowing others to take part in it and to even have freedom to make mistakes? Do you ask your DRE or Pastor for advice when the item is one that you are not familiar with? The strongest parish youth ministries operate as teams.
What is your take?