Well, you’re not going to brag about it, but things are going great in your ministry.
Your fall kick-off went better than expected, and you’re finally seeing breakthroughs in teenagers who’ve left the sidelines to get in the game with Jesus. It’s all fueling momentum you’re not sure what to do with.
Even if this isn’t true of you, play along…
These seasons of ministry really are an intimidating gift when they drop into our lap. We ask ourselves: How did we get here? and How do I keep from messing this up?
Well, this year, our ministry has kicked off well. We’re hitting record numbers in student and leader attendance, and yet we face challenges that come with this good news. So I’ve been intentionally reducing my focus, exploring what small things we can do that would strengthen us at our core. We’ve landed on these five “core-strengtheners”:
1. Invest into the investors
I can’t be everywhere, nor can our team. And yet we know that our small-group leaders are key to what we’re doing—they need personal attention. This is why we just started a new “shepherd” position to attract leaders who feel called to intentionally care for our volunteers. One of our shepherds was a small group leader for years and told me he was done serving this year. When I pitched him the idea for this role, he reactivated and has been attending our programs just to connect with leaders. Another shepherd is a mom who didn’t want to invade her daughter’s world but still wants to support those who do. It’s been a huge win for us.
2. Prune the usual calendar
All of us do things every year because “we do them every year.” Some of these traditions could use a tweak, if not an entire transformation. For example, we plan a retreat every year that’s very well received, but creates massive team fatigue. This year, instead of abandoning the idea altogether, we decided to take our kids to a conference that will do all the programming for us. That means we get to just hang out with our group and process the takeaways together.
3. Try a new outward-focused initiative
To reach young people we aren’t reaching we need to do things we aren’t doing. That’s why we’re hosting a local dodgeball tournament that will tap into the competitive spirit among the different schools in our region while also forging a partnership with our city community center. We’ll be building a bridge between that event and our mid-week program. We won’t know if it’s a success or failure for a while, but this experiment will force our team to ask better questions about why we do what we do.
4. Get onto the campus
I’ve been feeling a burden to get into local schools. I sensed Jesus directing me to make my focus on serving the school’s needs. So I joined a local anti-bullying committee. I recruited two teenagers and one adult leader from our ministry to join me. We’re now getting ready to launch a huge week-long initiative that will flow directly out of the relationships we’re forming.
5. Pray in groups
None of our efforts alone matter without Jesus. So we’re gathering student leaders, parents, and adult volunteers to regularly seek Him together. We’ve planned a 24-hour “Day of Prayer”—every hour, on the hour, we’ll “pause and pray.” Our hope is that by slowing down and looking around we can better see what Jesus is doing so we can get involved with Him.
To top all of this off, we’re also hosting one of Group’s Youth Ministry Local Training events at our church. We have more than 80 people attending, including small group leaders and parents from our church. The common experience it will give us a shared language for forging our way into the future, together with Jesus.