Yesterday, the monthly youth worker network meeting was hosted by one of the largest churches in our region. While I…
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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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.
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.
I’ll never forget the time I was skiing with a friend and his dad, Norm. I loved Norm. At the time, he was over 50 and had never been skiing. After an hour or so, he decided he wanted to ride up the ski-lift with me. He would go down the rather tame, intermediate run (as opposed to the bunny slope and its rope-tow), and I was going to go down the Double-Black Diamond run and meet him at the bottom of the slope. Well, he wanted to see what a black diamond course looked like from the top, but unfortunately, he went too far over the precipice for him to turn back. I was worried for him and said I’d go down first. I stopped about half way down to see Norm, to my horror and utter disbelief, attempt a mogul on his skis. Needless to say, the poor guy wiped out, tried standing up, just to lose his balance and fall end over end. No sooner did it seem like Norm’s momentum would slow, he tried to stand just to lose his balance again and topple further down the mountain.
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It was pretty scary being stuck, able to do nothing more than watch. Thank God he wasn’t seriously injured. But guess who got stuck trudging up the mountain to retrieve the lost poles and skis? Yep, me.
On Tuesday, Josh and Kurt wrote about their FAQs regarding their ministries at Saddleback. On Wednesday, they shared their great wisdom surrounding mission work. And at first glance, these two stories have nothing to do with each other—until I realized how the Crawl, Walk, Run principle can be applied to so much.
I have always found it funny when a church such as Saddleback has a healthy, thriving ministry, other groups want to know what they are doing and how they are doing it. Never mind the fact that what is good for one church won’t necessarily be good for another. Never mind the fact that a lot of thought, work, and planning went into building Saddleback’s ministries. Never mind that it didn’t happen overnight. Never mind that they didn’t use a cookie-cutter plan to make it so.