Tuesday, February 02, 2010

About Groundhog's Day... as it relates to youth ministry

I'll come right out and say it...

I hate "Groundhog's Day."

Actually the only thing that I like about Groundhog's Day is the movie pictured here (called Groundhog's Day) with Bill Murray. The movie itself is pretty good. Actually downright hilarious in places. But I digress...

I hate the Groundhog holiday. Not just dislike it... but actually hate it.

Here's why:
  • It's silly.
  • It's pointless.
  • It's dumb.
  • It makes us all look dumb because it's silly, pointless and dumb.
  • It means nothing and has no practical function.
  • It's based completely on tradition that has no basis in fact and is in fact counter-intuitive in nature in that sunshine should mean the end of winter but in fact this sunshine produces a shadow that drives the little varmit (supposedly... even though they drag him out of a fake hole in a fake stump in front of 40,000 people and 100 cameras... who in the world could see a shadow in the midst of that mayhem anyway... and which shadow of the 99 did he see from all the cameras flashes anyway... before he supposedly whispers in the ear of the dopey-looking guy in a top-hat (if I were Phil, I'd bite him in the ear... seriously!!???) back into his hole for 6 more weeks of winter!!!!
  • There is little to no benefit in it.
But I digress again... I told you... I hate this holiday... (which shouldn't be a holiday, mind you... if I could find the idiot who made this a holiday I'd smack him... and now the stupidity seems to be spreading... we have Phil, Dave, Chuck, Sam, Willie (2 of them), Mel, Jimmy, Spanish Joe (Spanish Joe?) and General Beauregard Lee giving different predictions... ugh! Don't we have Weather Channel and can figure out the weather from someone better than a rodent?) But I digress again and again...

But I promise this rant does have a youth ministry and leadership point. It's just that every time I start typing, I'm reminded of how stupid this whole thing is and my fingers just take off.

I guess here's the point:
What in our ministries are we doing that doesn't have a point, help our ministries and only drains resources?

I look at Groundhog Day and I think "really?" Are there things in our ministries that we should look at and say "really? we're still doing that? why? what's the benefit?"

  • Shouldn't we have some regular time of reflection on our ministries?
  • Shouldn't we step back every once in a while and say, "Do we really need to do that anymore?"

Obviously I think we should. (I think we should collectively rise up and say to those who make calendars... stop putting Groundhog's Day on the calendar because it's not a real holiday.) I think we should look at our youth ministries and say, "We don't need that anymore," "That isn't helpful," "That needs to be changed to be more productive," "That doesn't serve a purpose."

But I know that there are some Groundhog Day lovers out there. (And feel free to skip commenting on this blog because you won't convince me of its importance... and don't misunderstand my rant to be a PETA-save-the-animals thing... it's not.) I'm for evaluation. I'm for taking a look out what we're doing, why we're doing it and deciding if its still worth the time and energy that we put into doing it.

Most of us don't want to do that kind of heavy lifting. It's much easier to do what we've always done. It's much easier to let something happen than fight to eliminate it or change it. Why? Because somehow that "something" got on the calendar because someone thought it was important. And in order to change it, you might have to have a hard conversation with someone about why it should be eliminated or changed. Which will lead to conflict. So we avoid it. Because that's easier.

That's no good.

And it makes us look silly, pointless and dumb (although... maybe those are harsh words). Rather, it makes us look irrelevant, wasteful and out of touch.

And many times, that's how the world sees the church. In part, because some of our ministries (and I'm not saying all... and I'm certainly not immune...) are doing ministry like they did 15-30 years ago. We're not evaluating, questioning, taking a look at what we're doing. We're often not asking the hard questions. We've often not having the hard conversations. We're often not employing the creativity in our minds to come up with new solutions to old or new problems.

So... just like Groundhog's Day... we continue to do the same things over and over again.

So... what?
  1. We need to evaluate what we're doing.
  2. Compare it with what was important to Jesus and His vision for His church.
  3. We need to ask the hard questions.
  4. We need to have the hard conversations.
  5. We need to eliminate or change those things that don't fit the vision for Christ's Church. (Matthew 22:37-40, Matthew 28:18-20, Matthew 9:35-38)

So we can grow.

(And hopefully get rid of dumb holidays... like Groundhog's Day...)


Feel free to jump in and comment (unless you're just trying to convince me of the importance of this supposed holiday... in which case... save the keystrokes...).


  1. Hey, tell us how you really feel about Groundhog Day.

    Nice post.

    BTW - I think the "holiday" is dumb but fun. And, it makes a lot of money for the people in Mike Hammer's neck of the woods!

  2. I agree with your article as a whole. I live in Punxsutawney now, and I think it's a silly holiday. I enjoy the movie, even though they didn't film it here.

    My observations: it speaks to people wanting to be a part of something "bigger" than themselves.
    It speaks to people wanting something to celebrate.
    It speaks to how people try to find things to capitalize on.

    Just some random thoughts.

    By the way, I have yet to actually go up to see the groundhog on February 2nd. My wife grew up her, went once, and that was enough for her.

  3. Thanks Hammer and Joel...
    Hammer: I had a couple of students a few years back when I was in northwest PA go down for the 'celebration.' They said there was plenty of alcohol flowing... but I've never been personally.

    But thanks for the comments.

  4. Excellent post, and I like your sort of round about way of getting there (and sucked me in by talking about one of my favorite movies). It's so easy to just keep doing what we are doing -- it takes work to stop and ask "Why are we doing this?" THanks for the post.