Finally! School is back in session. March has nothing on the summer madness of youth ministry. And now we’re moving into the Friday night lights of football, homecoming, and the fund-raising pumpkin patch.
Chances are you’ve already begun assessing and praying through where God wants the student ministry to move in the coming year. (And if you haven’t, take 5, get out of the office and start reflecting!) As God brings clarity on the future, we have to bring clarity to those we serve with. After all, vision is not usually just for the one who sees it…
So how do you ‘sell’ this direction God has for you?
1. Start slow. Sometimes in our zeal, we become like a bull in a china closet—leaving nothing but broken porcelain in our wake. If God is rewriting where your ministry is going, recognize that steering the ship slowly will help you with buy-in. Meet with some key people in your life about the coming change—staff, leaders, students—and get feedback and counsel before the “unveiling.”
2. Communicate – a lot! After you’ve sought some godly counsel and begun formulating some directional steps, OVER-COMMUNICATE! If you sound like a tape-recorder, you’re doing it right. People need to hear it and hear it and hear it and hear it…(get it)…in order for them to get it.
3. Ours vs. Mine. No matter how much you communicate, if those serving with you don’t feel like they’re part of the new vision, they won’t be in—no matter what you do. So remember to use “our” messages, as opposed to “mine” messages. Give them the opportunity to steer some of the finer points of the vision—give them practical guidance with freedom to dream on their own!
4. Three Points and a Poem. Remember to keep it simple. If you’re envisioning a radical rewriting of the ministry, give a simple overview, then a specific bite at a time. People will need time to digest major changes—giving them one specific change at a time might help do that. It also gives you time to hone that change before you embark on the next one.
5. Remember the Village. It’s not just about students or just about volunteers or just about staff. There’s better buy-in of any vision when EVERYONE knows what the vision is. So don’t leave anyone out. Tell the church pastoral team, your student ministry leaders, parents, and kids. Leaving any of those out could tank you and your vision before it even gets off the ground.
6. Forest for the Trees. In all of this, remember that even though visions and tag-lines and methods might change, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and always. No matter what your direction is for fall, how it changes in the spring, or what your calendar holds in the summer, you have a timeless, life-changing God to share. He’s the reason we HAVE a vision. Make sure he’s at the center of it. So here you are at the end of this article and the end of your venti White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha—make some notes, call some people, and embark on this great, new direction God has designed for the ministry he’s entrusted with you…great things are on the horizon!
Darren is a veteran youth pastor in Corpus Christi, TX, and the co-founder of Millennial Influence (www.minfluence.com).