Enduring in Gospel Advancing - Dare 2 Share
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

Enduring in Gospel Advancing

5 tips to stay strong over the long haul of ministry



Running a marathon isn’t for the faint of heart.

I’m not a runner. I describe myself as a plodder, or one who makes it to the end purely because I didn’t give up.

Ministry feels like that sometimes. In nearly two decades, I’ve grown two different ministries in two different states. The world looks different than it did in 2006. We’ve grown, and we’ve had seasons of painful pruning. The only constants for us are the Bible and the Gospel Advancing principles. Youth ministry is very fad-driven, but I know the 7 Values hold up against changing culture. How can we Gospel Advancers survive the marathon, too?

Here are five tips that have helped me endure through the years as a Gospel Advancing leader:

1. Look at Gospel Advancing as a lifestyle, not just a ministry plan.

I love Gospel Advancing principles, because they reflect how Jesus did ministry. He trained disciples to multiply, not just isolate themselves. The early church—as you can see when you study the book of Acts—was built on the 7 Values, and the church movements that embrace them today continue to grow.

My wife and I not only incorporate these values in our ministry, but we also parent, coach sports, and live life with the idea that Jesus’s way should guide everything we do. 

2. Celebrate each time God shows up.

We youth leaders get a front-row seat to incredible God moments. Celebrating those is so encouraging. I especially love getting to celebrate what my students see God doing in their lives. We “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). Their stories become our stories, and we get to brag on God together.

The goal is to see mature Christian students graduate from our ministries with a passion to see the whole world find Jesus. That journey means you might not see huge numbers or major life-change immediately, but you will see leaders and students take steps toward embracing God’s calling.

We cheer when we see students acting on all sections of their Cause Circles: prayer, care, and share. We applaud when students start to pray for their lost friends. We use our “5 for the Cause” time to celebrate not only Gospel-sharing conversations, but also students who are intentionally caring for lost people. We spend time remembering, so that during the dry spells we still celebrate God at work. 

3. Prayerfully create an annual vision.

Our strategic action plan with annual and quarterly goals is the most important thing I strategize all year. This plan helps me know what the next steps are. We all have tough days. We all stare at blank screens trying to figure out what to do next. When you have a God-given vision, you can look at the next goal and work toward that.

This one, simple step can keep us busy youth leaders on task. It also gives your leaders marching orders to be able to support you and what God is calling your ministry to do. 

4. Share the vision with others to get them on your team.

Enduring in Gospel Advancing is much more likely when you get others on the same page by inviting them in. Doing this gives your lead pastor reasons to be excited about what God is doing in the youth room. When we communicate the vision and celebrate the wins and goals, we give our church leaders tools to defend our “alternative,” Gospel Advancing ministry approach.

As a 20-year youth ministry veteran, I’ve found that communication with senior leadership has frequently saved me, because the leaders understood what we celebrated and worked toward. They were able to support us and find ways for others to join in the mission. Lack of understanding often leads to an unwillingness to deal with the complaints of people who don’t understand the Gospel Advancing strategy—which means you should do everything you can to get other leaders on your team.

5. Root your identity in the Lord.

We should derive our identity from the Lord, not from our ministry. It’s easy to get sidetracked when a lead pastor does not support us or when church members grumble over evangelism or discipleship.

When that happens, or when the results don’t come quickly, we must go back to where we place our identity. When my identity is in Christ, I endure. When I place my identity in popularity or numbers, I grow very empty. I’ve seen great biblical outcomes and numbers and still felt empty. I’ve gone through slow seasons and felt on top of the world. The power of knowing where my identity comes from is ultimately where I gain my ability to endure in Gospel Advancing ministry. 

There are many miles ahead for advancing the Gospel. I pray that we all endure—until every teen, everywhere, hears the Gospel from a friend. 

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