A few years ago, we spent some time reflecting deeper on our ministry. As we discussed amongst our leadership community, we knew why we existed as a youth ministry.
But that was the problem: We were just existing. We weren’t thriving as we desired.
We had been so busy and preoccupied trying to do youth ministry from week to week, that we had started losing sight of the bigger vision.
Using an analogy of building a house, we had been so preoccupied as builders trying to build something, that we stopped looking at the building plans and just kept building without much direction.
And so, we decided to go back to the drawing board. Metaphorically, you could say we “pressed the reset button”. We didn’t want to wait for the ship to be sinking before we responded. Instead, we felt that as leaders, we needed to not only be clear collectively on what we were building towards, but we needed to be excited about building it.
So in our discussions, we began to ask ourselves some key questions. And I hope this would provide you with some thoughts as you continue to build the ministry:
Psalms 127:1 reminds us that “Unless the Lord builds the house, we labour in vain.” And Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that God “is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.” So think about it: Why settle for your vision, when you can have a God-vision? After all, it is HIS ministry, not ours. More importantly, Proverbs 29:18 (MSG) reminds us that “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves.” You need a God-vision for the ministry!
Let’s be clear: Our mission as Christians is always to make disciples, according to the Great Commission. So while making disciples is our main mission, we wanted to break that down further so that it was clear what we needed to do as a Youth Ministry; but more importantly, when it came to deciding what activities and programs we wanted to do, this gave us direction and determined what we prioritized. So as we broke it down further, we knew that in making disciples, we wanted to Reach the next generation, Raise Christ-like disciples and Release Servant-Leaders. That became our mission.
Youth Ministry is like a greenhouse – you need to cultivate the right environment in order for the right things to grow. And the environment you create are the cultures you choose to cultivate in the ministry. Like a greenhouse, we need to control what environment we create by taking responsibility and ownership of it – not just in defining the culture, but living out the cultures you desire to see in the ministry. So be intentional about defining and setting the cultures you think is best needed for growth.
Many times, we look at other youth ministries, and maybe we think to ourselves, “If only I had the leaders/budget/creativity they had…” My friend Jeremy Seaward talks about it in his recent Elevate Collective Article (When You Have No Leaders) that we need to stop complaining and stop comparing. So you need to be real and recognize the reality in front of you. This gives you a starting point to begin strategizing and working from.
As you recognize the reality that’s in front of you, that’s your starting point. So between your current reality and the vision and mission, is this thing called your strategy.
Maybe your vision is to raise up 20 Connect Groups in your ministry, then perhaps how you’re going to do it could be identifying, developing and equipping 20 connect group leaders, or reaching 100 youth for Christ. Your strategy gives you the realistic steps you need to take in order to achieve the vision and mission you’ve identified.