On a very rare occasion in youth ministry I found myself sitting in front of my computer contemplating what to do next. For whatever reason, space in my brain and my calendar was available and, to be honest, it was a bit paralyzing. Having completed daily devotions and prayers, my heart rate would cycle back to “normal”, having recovered from the last youth gathering. In these moments I desired to leverage my “found” time to create momentum for our ministry. To awaken my brain and direct my thoughts, I would focus on what I refer to as the “big three”– vision, curriculum, and volunteers. I would prompt myself with the three questions below to engage in critical evaluation and attend to the supporting structures of ministry.
How am I continuing to cast, support, resource, and train others in our ministry vision?
• Evaluate your communication pieces. How do the website, email, snail mail, or group texts communicate the vision of your ministry?
• Write and practice your 30 second “elevator” speech to these questions, “Why does this youth ministry exist?” or “Why you should serve in our youth ministry?”
• Evaluate how you continue to communicate with your team. What do you wish them to accomplish throughout the ministry year? Consider setting up (formal or informal) an opportunity to communicate vision with your team.
• Develop a vision “grid” that outlines what you wish each youth to know, experience, and do should they participate in the youth ministry all 7 years. Create a tracking mechanism to evaluate these targets.
• Examine your budget and evaluate the ways it needs to grow or shift to help you achieve the vision and make more disciples.
How am I selecting, using, writing curriculum resources that fulfills the ministry vision?
• Take some time and evaluate your current curriculum resources. Are they helping fulfill the vision of the youth ministry? Are they enabling students to encounter and apply scripture? Are they helping students identify and develop spiritual disciplines?
• Crowdsource curriculums that others or using that they enjoy. Identify why they chose these in particular. What was their standard for use—theology, ease of use, cultural compatibility, other?
• Evaluate curriculum approaches. Would a “scope and sequence” curriculum or for a topical approach work best? Why? What would be the benefits of each in your setting?
• Ask if it is necessary that you write your own curriculum resources. Gauge if your time is better used elsewhere or if writing resources is best in this particular season in ministry.
• Identify curriculums that coincide with the “grid” mentioned above.
• Spend some time vetting curriculums that you have not used before.
How am I recruiting, equipping, and supporting ministry teammates who help us accomplish our vision?
• Pray for every member of your volunteer team.
• Recruit someone for a ministry that begins 6 months from now.
• Identify individuals who can help guide each major event during the coming ministry year. Make a hit list of possibilities. Email a few to get it on their radar.
• Ask what your ministry could do with a 20% increase in leadership participation. Write down your answers.
• Take a leader in your ministry to lunch and ask how you can pray for them.
• Evaluate your support of leaders. Do you communicate clearly and often? Do you allow for adequate time off between ministry cycles? Are you equipping them with tools to grow spiritually? Note ways to improve.
Outsiders looking in on youth ministry may assume that the bulk of ministry occurs during the large event or the weekly gathering. Those of us who serve know better. Effective ministry gatherings are the tip of the iceberg and thrive based on the time we spend below the surface, in quiet moments of prayerful, honest, evaluation accompanied by purposeful action.
We cannot afford to waste the rare windows of time afforded to us by opening email or defaulting to a skip through social media. Instead, invest these opportunities to do the forgotten or neglected work of ministry—the kind of work that moves a ministry forward.
TONY AKERS has been in ministry to youth and families in large and small churches for three decades. He is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary and just entered his 14th year in ministry at Trinity United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Alabama where he serves as the Director of Disciple Life. Tony is also a youth ministry coach and writes fairly frequently at WWW.STUDENTMINISTRYSOLUTIONS.COM
This post was previously published by STUDENTMINISTRYSOLUTIONS.COM