Upgrading your youth ministry spam filter

Upgrading your youth ministry spam filter
Part of what I do as senior writer/editor here at YWM (between answering Charles’ & Erin’s fan emails) is moderating comments on our site. I’m sure there are other sites where that’s a pretty exciting job; unfortunately you all are pretty intelligent and well-rounded individuals that play nice in the comment sections so mostly for us that involves simply clicking approve, approve, approve as new people comment.

But as our readership has grown, so has our quantity of spam comments. I’m sure someone understands what spam comments accomplish, but I surely do not. They’re not tricking me into doing anything, they don’t offer a lost Malaysian inheritance, and rarely promise guaranteed male enhancement. And they’re painfully obvious. “You’re the one around here with the good ideas in the posts.” “Great post on this subject! I always am looking for this quality information of this subject.” I can’t decide if they’re being run through a shoddy translator or if they’re intentionally written to be as fragmented and nonsensical as possible.

Then there are good ones like the one I shot down this morning:

During Opening match in the Brasilia, the spectators caught
up some turmoil at the stadium. The protests said that the Mr Rousseff’s government have to
encounter the hard political reforms as nicely as remarkable got the incredible financial expansion by the slow.

Rafael Alcadipani stated Fifa & its international sponsor most
likely envisioned it is simple time for the Brazil to get the reputation like a happy region.
He also explained it is most most likely that Brazil would be so content
by carrying out the dancing & enjoying the soccer.
He also mentioned that organizers did not count the improve of the sophistication of the Brazilian modern society.

I don’t understand what is gained here, unless they’ve developed a successful business model based on incredulity in consumer distraction. It cost me nothing but my time.

My time.

My time is the place where the spam of life leaks through every filter I’ve tried to set up. Conceding the point that we’d all be a little happier if we’d just remember to carry out the dancing from time to time, spam is a time-vacuum. It’s so prevalent that Internet spam has actually replaced meat spam as the number one definition of the word. I’ve got safeguards set up everywhere; there’s a recycling bin directly below my workroom inbox, Gmail actually filters pretty accurately, and making snap decisions in those places and on our comment boards has streamlined all of that as well as it can be. I’m sure you’ve done a lot of that, too.

But what about real-life spam? How are you protecting yourself from that? What places in your life do you allow to clog your time that could be used more productively? You could, in theory, fill every hour of the day with a ministry task and still have things undone at the end of the week. Sure, you got the minute-by-minute for next year’s fall retreat planned, but you didn’t visit 20 of your families in person. The graduation dinner invites got mailed, but have you read the thing you were sent about the event that one mom wanted you to check out?

The key is balance, but balance can be hard to find. To be honest, there are days when it feels like you’re genuinely trying balance on a ministry tightrope while people whip saucepans at you. You’re not going to be able to catch them all and you’ll be lucky if you don’t get hit by a few.


You’re not going to get it all done. Ever.

You aren’t going to make everyone happy. Ever.

You’re the only one that really cares about your own sanity. And sometimes not even you.



Build some degree of separation between you and your work. Not to shirk responsibility, but create a buffer between expectations and resolution. Don’t answer that text message right away. It can wait. If an email doesn’t have to be answered today, don’t. Work from home sometimes. Take your busiest day off once in a while. Don’t read that email from Youthworker Movement this week. Seriously. Don’t let us become a thing you have to do.

Obviously none of those obligations go away and at some point most things do need to be done, many sooner than others. And we hope you’ll read our email again very soon. Maybe even make a donation. But if you can build a breath in between the call to action and the response, even when you don’t need it, you’ll have established a safe space you’ll thank yourself for later when you do need it.

Take care of you. You’re all you’ve got.



Photo courtesy of Jennifer Flora


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