I (Tim) am lucky to have a long list of spiritual heroes in my life. Glen (youth pastor), Willis Ray (pastor), Dean, Don, and Steve (ministry mentors) all shared life and modeled the way of Jesus to me. No one has been more influential in my youth ministry career than Allen Jackson, my youth ministry professor. After 20-plus years of investing in youth leaders around the south, Allen is transitioning out of academia back into the local church. It’s staggering to consider the tens of thousands of students who have been impacted by Allen’s ministry to youth leaders.
In honor of all of our ministry heroes, I wanted to share with you the youth ministry strategy I first learned from Allen nearly two decades ago.
To lead effective, balanced, healthy youth ministry, you need to pay attention to these eight “P”s:
- Personal Life. Your own spiritual journey and personality are important parts of your youth ministry strategy. It’s not all about you, but it is a little bit about you.
- Purpose. Whether you’re serving in a large or small church, an urban or rural environment, it’s important that you have clarity on your church’s vision, mission, and purpose, so the ministry you’re leading can support and be supported by the larger church.
- Place. Your ministry happens somewhere. Your strategy should intentionally address what you’re doing on your church campus, in a local school, or in whatever location you’re able to connect with students.
- Programming. Your strategy is more than just the stuff you do, but it still includes your weekly and occasional programming; make it count.
- Partnerships. Even if you know you could do things better, a healthy strategy includes partnerships with caring adults, with families of students, and with students looking to be involved in ministry.
- Progress Reports. Few churches evaluate honestly the effectiveness of their ministry. A healthy youth ministry strategy welcomes hard questions, because healthy leaders are always looking for ways to improve.
- Processes. Administration is not a bad word. A good understanding of processes and systems will allow you to be strategic in your management of the resources at your disposal.
- People. The last item on this is most important. Ministry is all about people. None of the above issues matter without people who care about students. Every student needs at least seven adults who give them constant encouragement and support.
Keep loving students!