Too many ministries focus on what they are doing, rather than on what is getting done. These wise words from seminary professor and author Mark Senter III point to our critical, continual need to keep an eye on the big picture of what we’re driving toward. It’s all too easy for us to simply get sucked into the busyness and pressure of going through the motions (and commotions) of week in and week out student ministry activities.
A well crafted vision statement – one that God has laid on your heart through a time of prayer and reflection – helps bring the big picture into laser-focus!
Know What You’re Driving Toward
In fact, identifying your own specific bold vision statement for your youth ministry efforts is freeing. Why? Because it clarifies your call before God when it comes to what your ministry should be focused on and driving toward. It gives you a grid to run every plan and program through, so you can make informed, purposeful decisions about “good, better, best.” It helps you shepherd your students toward becoming disciples of Jesus who live out “The Great Commandment” and “The Great Commission.”
In the last energize article, we unpacked “3 Steps to Finding Your Ministry Vision.” For those of you who have walked through these steps, WELL DONE! My hat’s off to you for the time and energy that you poured into this significant task. Hopefully you had a spiritually enriching time with Jesus. Now that you’ve prayed, pondered, dreamed about, and drafted an initial vision statement for your ministry, what comes next? It’s time to schedule a meeting with your senior pastor. Before you finalize or share your vision statement with others, you’ll want to tap into your pastor’s wisdom and get some specific feedback as you continue to think and pray about what you’ve drafted.
Cultivate a Healthy Relationship with Your Senior Pastor
There are a boatload of reasons why this step is essential in the process of identifying and unpacking your ministry’s vision statement. Here are a few of them.
Your Senior Pastor…
…likely has wisdom and ministry experience that can help you mold and shape your statement for maximum impact.
… will hopefully “catch a vision” for your ministry’s vision because you’ve invited them to speak into it early in the development process.
…will “have your back” as you move into the implementation stage of your vision and begin to make changes that might ruffle feathers among your church board, parents or students. (If you haven’t read my book, Firing Jesus, I encourage you to check it out.)
…is your boss, and Scripture tells us to respect those in authority over us.
I think you’ll find that engaging with your Senior Pastor in this process will actually help you cultivate a healthier, more professional, God-honoring, focused and purposeful relationship with each other. Plus, it will help get you on the same page when it comes to your roles and responsibilities as youth leader!
10 Tips for Your Meeting
Now for some practical, tactical advice on how you should prepare for and best utilize your meeting time with your Senior Pastor.
- Set up your meeting time in advance and indicate that you are seeking insight and advice about something you sense God is laying on your heart about your youth ministry.
- Pray, pray, pray about the meeting in advance.
- Be on time and dress nicely. These simple actions will help communicate that you are serious about this.
- Come well prepared. Don’t wing it. Prepare a handout or Power Point so you can present your draft vision statement in writing. Have notes and have what you need on hand to take notes about your discussion time together.
- Open your time together with prayer and ask for God’s guidance and for courage, boldness and wisdom as you seek to glorify Him and advance His kingdom through your student ministry.
- Present this as a draft vision statement. It is still a work in progress, that’s why you’re seeking insight and advice. Explain what a BOLD vision is and why you think you need one. Explain why it’s so big that God has to show up in order for it to be accomplished!
- Describe the process of how you prayerfully came up with it, and indicate that God has laid it on your heart. Share specific verses God used to help shape and mold your thinking, i.e., Luke 22:39-46, 1 Peter 2:9, Matthew 6:9-10 and Matthew 28:18-20.
- Present an initial assessment of “what we’re doing now” and “what might need to change in order for us to pursue this vision”—including the implications for families in your church.
- Ask for input and be open to it.
- Based on your discussion, together begin to identify a few next steps in the process. For example, does your vision need major re-crafting? If so, set up a time to meet again about it. What about the timing and process for communicating the vision to others? For example, you’ll want to discuss this with your key student ministry leaders (both adults and students) and get their input before your vision statement is finalized and distributed more widely. The next issue of energize will focus in specifically on how to help your key leaders get onboard, so stay tuned!
As you process the feedback and continue to mold and fine-tune your vision over the next few weeks, keep praying, keep focused and keep moving forward for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom!