One morning in August, I woke up early, jumped in my car, and headed down the road from Gering, Nebraska, to catch a flight out of Denver, Colorado. The car I drive is a 2005, solid-white Dodge Neon, which I’ve affectionately named “The Whitey Tighty.” This car is about as basic as it gets—no aux port, zero tint on the windows, dim headlights, and crank-down windows in the back (Google it, Gen Zers). It’s not fancy, but it gets me from A to B, at 35 mpg, so I don’t complain—much.
I made it to Denver International Airport, slightly sunburned, due to the lack of tint on the windows, but ready to jump on a plane to Amarillo, Texas, to meet with youth leaders. When I arrived in Amarillo and went to pick up my rental car, the agent behind the counter asked me, “Is a two-door OK?” I cringed a bit, picturing a smaller version of the Whitey Tighty, but I was by myself, so there was no reason say no.
They handed me the keys, and I walked out to spot 4, where I had to do a double-take. Spot 4 housed a 2022 Dodge Challenger GT, with only 1,500 miles under its belt. I started the day in a Dodge, but I was ending the day in a DODGE! The power difference was instantly noticeable, and my inner confidence skyrocketed as I drove out of the lot, excited to experience this baby on the open road.
Fix Your Alignment
Youth ministry in the local church can often feel like driving around in an older, featureless model of a car. It gets the job done, but it doesn’t feel like it has the potential to do much more than we’re asking it to. Sure, you can add a new coat of paint to the walls, rebrand the name, and recast the vision, but unless what’s “under the hood” gets a major upgrade, it won’t be long before you feel the need to repaint, rebrand, and recast again.
So how do we make the needed upgrades to boost our ministry “horsepower”?
The first step is to align with the message, ministry, and mission of Jesus. He was clear about the mission when He declared: “For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
And He was clear about our involvement when He said: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). If we’re going to “soup up” our youth ministry engine, it has to start with the intentional, strategic, and powerful values Jesus displayed to accomplish the mission:
- Intercessory prayer (John 17)
- Relational evangelism (John 3 and 4)
- All-in leaders (Luke 14:25-33)
- Disciple multiplication (Matthew 28:19-20)
- Bold vision (Matthew 24:14)
- Measurement of biblical outcomes (Matthew 8:10)
- Gospel focus in all He did (Luke 9:51)
These values are like the cylinders of a ministry engine that keep it firing and full of power!
Boost Your Power
We can upgrade our ministries to reflect Jesus’s priorities, but until we realize that His vision for our communities is far beyond just us, we’ll always be driving a version of the Whitey Tighty. The only way we can accomplish the mission He’s called us to is to jump into a ministry vehicle with significantly more power.
And that vehicle is—drumroll, please…networks!
And by networks we don’t mean youth leaders meeting up just to drink coffee and commiserate. Effective networks are ones where youth leaders work together to mobilize their students to reach every teen in their community! Think of something your ministry is doing to reach the lost teens in your area, and then imagine what it could look like with the resources of five or six ministries behind it! When the Holy Spirit unites believers together, suddenly a bold vision becomes achievable, just as Jesus prayed for in John 17.
If we truly desire to see the mission of Jesus accomplished in our communities, then it’s time for us to park the old “my ministry” model and jump into the power-packed vehicle of Gospel Advancing networks. When we do this, we’ll begin to see things move beyond what we ever could have done alone.
So, what other youth leader do you need to call to talk about reaching every teen in your community? Get the “car” rolling by doing it today!