THE CURSE OF TOO MUCH KNOWLEDGE (AND HOW IT’S AFFECTING YOUR MINISTRY ALREADY)

Written by Aaron Helman

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I was talking to a new sixth grader about how awesome camp was going to be.

She didn’t seem as excited as I thought she should be.

Everything at camp was so awesome!

Why was I merely receiving a blank stare.

Turns out, she didn’t know what a Blob was.

And she’d never been through a low ropes course before.

She’d never played Gaga Ball.

She’d never even seen a Nine-Square-in-Air.

I was describing them so confidently, so matter-of-factly, that she was afraid she’d seem dumb if she stopped to ask what those things were, so she just rolled with it, blank stare, confused brain, head nodding.

Short story: I was suffering from the curse of too much knowledge.

The curse of too much knowledge happens when you know something so well that you forget what it’s like not to know anything about it, and it happens all the time in ministry.

Sometimes we need to step back and ask ourselves a few questions:

Is this really common knowledge?

Would a new student or parent understand any of this lingo?

Is there some prior knowledge I need in order to understand this new idea?

Here are two places where the Curse of Too Much Knowledge invades your ministry, and two quick ways to fix it.

Here’s the first one…

I’ve been guilty of this one in the past.

INSIDER LINGO

I visited a church that literally made this announcement:

Students are invited to join us in The Fishbowl for Ignition Sunday night at 6. We’ll rock out with Antioch and then head down to The Vault for GaGa until it’s time to go home.

Confused? I was.

But the person making the announcement knew that The Fishbowl was the name of the youth room, Ignition was the name of the program, Antioch was the name of the youth praise band, The Vault was the game area in the basement, and that GaGa was a less-aerial dodgeball derivative.

Insider lingo isn’t always terrible.

It helps to create culture and identity for a group.

But you’ve also got to find a way to explain what you’re doing for people who aren’t on the inside yet.

In this case, the people who were on the inside already knew about the event and didn’t need the announcement.

Those on the outside couldn’t understand the announcement.

Solution: Use common language.

That announcement could have just as easily said this:

Students are invited to join us upstairs in the youth building for worship together at six. Afterwards, we’ll head downstairs for games.

Is it a little less exciting this way?

Maybe, but at least a new person will have some idea what you’re talking about.

BIBLE TEACHING

I’m guilty of this one.

I’ll teach about something Peter did without stopping to realize that almost no one in my group is totally certain who Peter was.

I’ll reference King David without even explaining what His Kingdom included.

I’ll ask students to open their Bibles to Hosea and start talking after fifteen seconds as if that was possibly enough time for everyone to find Hosea.

I’ll use terms like The Fall without ever considering that maybe that’s a pretty vague reference for a sixth grader.

Solution: Slow down. Explain more.

After you’re finished with your talk, go back and ask yourself which things actually need explaining.

Feeling brave?

Ask a student to look at it and circle the parts they definitely don’t understand.

There are probably a hundred more examples of these, but I probably know too much to be aware of them.

Where else do you see your ministry falling prey to the Curse of Too Much Knowledge?

Leave a comment below.

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Aaron HelmanAaron Helman is on a mission to end youth worker burnout by providing the training and resources that you haven’t been taught… until now. Smarter Youth Ministry exists to help you learn how to manage their time and resources better so that you can do more ministry with less frustration. All of that having been said, you most likely know him as the creator of “Lamentation or Taylor Swift Lyric.”

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