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I love watching my neighbors improve their home and property. Before they bought the house it was pretty much an eye sore. We looked at it ourselves but decided that it needed too much work. We’re not very handy with tools and stuff like that. But my neighbors are different. They saw something in the house that we didn’t. And it wasn’t long before I started noticing some changes. A new paint job, landscaping, etc. Now it doesn’t look anything like it did when they moved in. But it didn’t happen overnight. It’s taken a few years to get to where it is today.  Watching all that got me thinking about youth ministry and some kind of a light bulb went off in my head. How my neighbors treat their new home is a lot like how we should treat a new youth ministry. Here’s what I mean.

Everything starts with vision. You have to be able to see what’s not there. And that’s the problem—we focus on what’s in front of our noses. But to build from scratch you have to be able to see what’s not right in front of you. You have to ask simple questions. Why am I here? Why did God put me where I am today? What do I want to see happen to these kids when they leave my youth group? And the same is true even if you’re stepping into an already established ministry. Your vision may be different than those who came before you and it never hurts to evaluate why your ministry does what it does!

You’re also going to need the right tools. The right staff…the right people in the right places. Take the time to get to know the people who you might see as future staff. Don’t be in a hurry! Without the right tools you could do more damage that good. And you need to think about sustainable growth. What does it matter if I build a new addition to my home if I can’t afford to heat the new space? The same is true when it comes to growing your group. What good will it be to have big numbers early if you don’t have the people in place to disciple them for the long haul? You can have amazing technology and great facilities but your most valuable asset will always be the people who make up your staff!

And finally, you’ve got to have patience. A whole lot of patience. If you’re going to have a lasting impact on your kids you’re going to need to invest the time. Too many youth workers leave before any payoff. It can take several years just to build a solid foundation.
I’m into my second year at a new youth group. A bunch of good stuff has happened and I really feel good about where we are. But to be honest, I know that there’s a lot more to do. I know that I’ve got to be patient and build on the successes we’ve already had.

Bottom line: Starting something new can be scary! Going into a new ministry can be intimidating and discouraging at times. There are some days that I want to just find a hole and climb in it. I guess I probably shouldn’t say it like that. I probably should just focus on all the positive stuff. But when you’re building from scratch you’re going to have some bad days. That’s just the truth. When you have days like that just don’t give up! Remember the vision. Wait on the payoff. Find strength in His promise. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

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