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In late December of 1999, I was set to begin my first full-time youth ministry position. I’d taken the classes and received my degree, but had yet to take the field. As Christmas approached, a friend of the family bought me a book called Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry. She thought, “Jim is going to be a youth minister and this book has ‘youth ministry’ in the title so it seems perfect.” That was one of my first non-college books in youth ministry, and it has shaped my ministry ever since. I devoured the book in a few days, as I made notes and plans for my future ministry. Since then, I’ve come back to that book often for a refresher course.

In reading Josh and Kurt’s articles this week on purpose and programming, a couple of things came to mind.

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Help Your Students Create Their Life’s Mission Statement!
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Be Strategic
Youth ministry has had a reputation in the past of being a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, ” “just-play-dodgeball” kind of industry. Many of us have good ideas and great intentions. We often don’t, however, think ahead about where we’re planning to go. Where do you want your students to be in five years? What do you hope your youth ministry will reflect when the current kindergartners are 8th graders? Be strategic. Think ahead.

Be Intentional
Intentionally planning where you’re going reflects the strategy above. Once you know where you’re going long-term, you can plan for it now. We want our graduated seniors to connect with their church body and join a small group. So intentionally reflecting that culture in our youth ministry helps them make that transition.

Be Balanced
It’s easy in youth ministry for me to do what I want to do all the time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help our students grow up into mature Christians. Personally, I love discipleship, reading the Bible, and being stretched in that area. I don’t always enjoy sharing my faith (nobody tell Greg Stier…he’ll bust me up). Balancing ministry efforts with a purpose statement helps our youth ministry develop mature and balanced Christians.

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Help Your Students Create Their Life’s Mission Statement!
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In practice, a purpose statement and plan of attack are really helpful. It helps me know what to say “yes” to and where to say “no.” There’s always plenty to do, but I want to make the best use of my time.

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