Before the next school year starts, I dare you to set the kind of high-level ministry goals that will revolutionize your impact. But remember, goal-setting is different than planning.
Planning a summer retreat is not a goal; it’s a task.
Extending your reach to 10 teenagers in your community who are not currently involved in your ministry is a goal. And inviting those 10 students to your winter retreat is a result of that goal being reached.
Consider goals that extend your reach, deepen your connection with your community and church family, and launch your ministry toward deeper effectiveness and sustainability.
Spend 21 days praying, planning, and working your plan to reach your revolutionary goals.
- Spend the first 7 days in prayer. Pray about your next steps. Discern the ministry goals that will best serve the families in your community and your church. As you discern these next steps, write them down.
- Spend the next 7 days laying the foundation. Laying the foundation is your planning phase. You won’t reach your final destination without a roadmap. Do any research or administrative work that needs to be done to gain the clarity you need to reach your goal. If your goal includes reconnecting with five kids who attend your church but have stopped going to youth group, your roadmap should include building a list of families who attend your church who have teenagers.
- Use the last 7 days to start working on your plan. Begin implementing new practices that will help you reach your goal. Lean into these new objectives as the new school year kicks in.
Here are my own ministry goals I am leaning into this summer. I am currently in the planning phase. I hope, by laying out my own goals, my journey helps you consider your next steps…
Connect with all families who attend our church and have students who are not connected and are currently unknown to our youth ministry.
7 days in prayer:
During seven days of prayer, I had a picture of our congregation that played in my head over and over again. Our church membership is over 1,000. So of course, as the picture played in my head, I didn’t recognize everyone. There are a lot of students. These students deserve all the love and support our youth ministry has to offer. They are in the picture, yet totally disconnected and unknown. It’s like that picture you find at the bottom of a box when you’ve just moved. You see those family members you know well but you also see that one person no one remembers. There they are, unknown, in the family picture. During my seven days of prayer, I discerned that there are disconnected family members that we need to reach out to. I wrote down what I was discerning.
- Goal: Connect with all families who attend our church and have students who are not connected and are currently unknown to our youth ministry.
- Ministry Value: Students who do not regularly attend youth ministry activities but whose families attend our church should feel just as loved, known, and supported as our most-connected teenagers.
7 Days Laying the Foundation (I’m currently in this phase):
In this phase, I started by listing all of the teenagers I know who are not engaged in youth ministry. These are students I’ve met on a Sunday, but give me a wave as they quickly walk to their family’s favorite seating area in the sanctuary. They might also volunteer in the nursery, or help out with VBS, but are not known to our youth ministry. We’ve invested a wave and a hello. That’s it. We need to invest more. I write their names down. There are eight teenagers I can think off the top of my head—three of them are employed by our church facilities team. They clean our toilets, and that’s all I know about them. I’ve never made an effort to know more. Next, I’ll ask our executive director for a list of families. I want to know how many families attend regularly or are members of our church who have teenagers living at home. We cannot serve them if we don’t know who they are. Once a list of students who are unknown has been created, I will share the list with my coworkers and a few student leaders to see if they know anyone on the list, or if they have anyone to add to the list. Everyone on this list deserves to be known, loved, and supported.
7 Days Working the Plan:
This part of goal-setting is the beginning, not the end. As a youth ministry, we’ll spend seven days launching our plan, then continue to work it into the fabric of what we do. First, we’ll spend a full seven days praying over the teenagers on the list. Then we’ll assign kids on the list to a youth ministry staffer, church staffer, or student leader. Once these “unreached” students are assigned, we’ll begin cultivating relationships with them. The goal is not to boost our numbers. The goal is to extend ourselves to every teenager in our church, making sure they are they are loved and supported.
As you cultivate relationships this summer, I pray that setting new goals will draw you closer to those God loves. May you serve and love the students in your church and community as Jesus does. May your youth ministry outlast you and your legacy outlive you.