Student Ministry is not for the faint of heart! Our church just experienced a transition in our youth ministry. I was at home talking with my amazing wife and she said, “I think you need to jump back in for a season and lead the youth ministry at our church.” I said, “Really, why?” She said, “I think our student ministry needs your DNA and leadership until we call our next youth pastor.” I didn’t hesitate, I said, “I’m in!”
Now why would a “50” something Senior Pastor be excited to take the lead at our Middle School and High School nights? Because deep down inside I still believe Children and Youth and Family ministry is at the heart of our mission. I’ve said to my church for years, “The church that impacts the children and youth of it’s community, will be the church that will impact an entire community.”
So where do you begin? Do you just show up with your old bag of tricks and run the egg and the armpit relay. No! (But that game is a classic! Ha!) I decided to Go slow to Go fast! I decided to take Bill Hybels at his word from his book, “Axioms” where he says, “Get the right people around the table.” When you are facing a crisis, who can you call together around a table to help you pray and brainstorm and set up a go forward plan? I called in an amazing group of volunteer youth leaders at our church and we established 4 Action Steps for our Youth Ministry. (I will be sharing these 4 steps over the next few weeks….here is Action Step #1…
Step One: Define Reality – Max De Pree in his book “Leadership is an Art” says, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” When I brought our youth leadership team together I dusted off my old strategic youth ministry plan and guided everybody through it to help us define the state of our youth ministry. Here it is…
Pray – Jesus is Lord of this ministry. He is the King. Let’s surrender to Him this ministry, these students and parents. Let’s pray for a mighty move of God and see students lives transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. We prayed hard…next…
Adult Leaders – Who are currently serving in High School Ministry and Middle School Ministry. Where are we in need of more leaders? When was the last time we equipped our leaders? When was the last BBQ get together? Etc. We determined we were strong in High School Ministry but in need of more adult leaders in Middle School.
Student Leadership – Who is currently on this team? When do they meet? What have they been studying? Etc. I have a passion for student leadership. I believe they are the heart and soul of a youth ministry. (For more info go to: http://www.amazon.com/Student-Leadership-Training-Manual-Workers/dp/0310227976/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460562832&sr=1-1&keywords=chuck+wysong)
Discipleship – How many small groups do we have going right now? What are they studying? How are we discipling students to become kingdom impact players?
Relational Ministry – We use to call this “Incarnational Ministry” but simply put, we need to go to where kids are at. Go to their games, plays, musicals. Go on their turf and meet their friends. I call this the power of presence.
Outreach Ministry – When are we planning an intentional outreach to reach students with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some churches do this once a month or once a quarter. When are we going to plan and pray and present Jesus to students? (By the way, we are in friendship month at middle school and we saw 15 students give their lives to Christ. It never gets old!
Sunday Morning – What is our current curriculum? What has been taught? Who can we recruit in to teach? I immediately went to my friend Doug Fields resource: http://www.downloadyouthministry.com, I also surfed over to http://www.thesource4ym.com and http://www.youthspecialities.com. These resources are invaluable.
Camps and Mission Trips – What camps or Mission trips are coming up? When are they? How much? How are we going to communicate this etc. (By the way, I just went on our Mexico Outreach and it was the best thing I could have ever done for my soul. Love our students and leaders. Love being a part of reaching and loving and understanding another culture. So good!
Parent Ministry – How are we resourcing our parents? Do we have a seminar coming up that we can encourage our parents? How are we communicating to our parents?
(This strategic plan was adapted from Barry St.Clair’s Reach Out Ministry! Just a side note: Barry is a stud and a legend in Youth ministry go to https://reach-out.org for more resources)
We then asked the question…What is our current budget and how can we spend strategically to really press the accelerator down and move the mission forward.
In closing, I would encourage every Senior/Lead Pastor out there at sometime in their ministry to go on a mission trip with your youth, go to a week long camp with your youth, offer to teach midweek with your youth, offer to teach a parenting seminar, heck, just show up and support your youth leaders and hang out with kids. I promise you, it will be good for your soul and it will re-engage you to the mission of the gospel. Because somewhere I’ve heard that the majority of people come to Christ before the age of 18. Man, let’s encourage our youth leaders, pray for our youth leaders and our students and families and ask God for a mighty move of His Spirit over our communities.
Give me your thoughts! Engage in the conversation with me. Improve our strategic plan. Let’s Go make disciples….
Chuck Wysong is Lead Pastor at Life Community Church. He served as a youth pastor for 20 plus years in Youth for Christ, Young Life, local churches and Director of Youth Ministry for the Evangelical Covenant Church.