Two lessons learned from One Direction

Unknown-1Last week I had the privilege of taking my 4 girls to see 5 Seconds of Summer and One Direction at Nationals Ball Park.

“Privilege, Tom?  Was it really a privilege to take your girls to hear a bunch of tweens and teens scream their heads off for hours?” 

Yes, it was a privilege because anytime I can have moments with my girls like these the better.   Not only did I have a really fun time with my girls (they were so excited), but I was reminded of something very important from the bands, especially One Direction.

“What, Tom?!?  You are talking crazy!  What could you have possibly learned from One Direction?”

One Direction reminded me that they not only know their audience (tween and teenage girls as well as moms and dads who have influence over their decisions), but every move they made was tailored to them.  They play to them and their audience was loving every moment of it.

In addition, as a parent, I appreciated that not only where they funny, nice and friendly, but they were very appropriate and I didn’t hear one cuss word.  Call my a prude, but I don’t want my girls to hearing in appropriate words from their favorite artists at this age.

So, where am I going with this?  Two simple reminders:

For starters, they reminded me to play to your audience.  I have heard and seen many ministries try to dictate to students what they will do and how they will do it.  For instance, if you have a core group of mature believers who want to be challenge to grow in Christ, you try to make the group outreach focused and not use the core to their strength.  Or, try to take a bunch of core students who are immature in their beliefs try to go and do a strict Bible Study program.  Either way, you frustrate your core and they start to leave the program.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t have a plan or strategy to stretch and challenge them.  Rather, I am saying that too often we tell students what to do rather than listen to what they want and tailor what you are trying to accomplish to your audience.

One Direction could have done whatever they wanted to do during their show, but they didn’t.  They played towards their audience and everyone I talked to after the show (I had lots of friends who went to the show with their kids) said they were more impressed than they were before the show.  They knew what their audience wanted and played to it fantastically.

Secondly, One Direction reminded me to always be appropriate around your students.  Towards the end of the show someone threw up a bra to Harry Styles on stage.  Instead of taking it and playing with it (as I’ve seen other men do during concerts in the past), he simply threw it back.  I have actually never seen anything like that before.  He could have done any number of things with that bra, but he simply threw it back.  I was very impressed.

I have had a lot of ministry teams that have bonded and meshed so well that they have turned into great friendships.  As great as those become, sometimes you can joke around and say things to each other that you may not normally say in front of students…not that it is inappropriate behavior that is un-godly but just something that doesn’t need to be said in front of students.  Anytime you are around students, the behavior of you and your leaders need to have is godly and positive.  If students get the hint that there is negativity amongst leaders and any sort of ungodly behavior that is going on is unacceptable.

Not only did One Direction put on a great show, they also showed their audience some real class.  I know they won more people over because of their actions that night and I’m sure they are going to have a successful tour.

What about you? What have you learned or been reminded of lately about ministry?

Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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