Why do you need a bold vision? Because without it, you’re just doing stuff; your group will never be much more than a Christian social club.
That’s why I’m encouraging you to set aside some time to get away from the daily grind and spend a three hour block of time praying, reflecting, and crafting a vision statement for your youth ministry. Go somewhere with the least distractions possible, and leave your cell phone on silent. What should you do during this time? Below you’ll find a practical guide that will walk you through your vision building process.
Gather the following before you head off for your three hours:
- Your Bible
- A list or group photo of your students
- A map of your community – you can print this out from Google Maps
- Note taking tools – laptop or pen and paper
- Note: If you haven’t watched the free webinar Built for Boldness, I’d suggest you do that in preparation for your time away.
Step #1: Start with prayer.
Many times, if we’re honest, our prayers are self-focused. We come with an attitude. It may sound like this: “God, here’s what I want to accomplish in the next year…will you please come and bless my efforts?” It’s more of a “My will be done” attitude, instead of a “Thy will be done” passion. As you launch into your prayer time, read and pray over Luke 22:39-46. Bring your brokenness to God and start with a time of “surrendering prayer.” Humbly seek His direction for your time of prayer, reflection and focus on discerning a vision for your youth ministry. William Law described prayer as a mighty instrument, “not for getting man’s will done in heaven,” but “for getting God’s will done on earth.” Jot down some thoughts.
Next, move to a time of “audacious prayer”—not for your own sake, but for the sake of God’s glory and the advancement of His kingdom. Read and prayer over 1 Peter 2:9, Matthew 6:9-10 and Matthew 28:18-20. Begin to pray about how God might want to use you and your ministry to invade enemy territory and bring light to the darkness. Jot down some thoughts.
Step #2: Reflect on what God’s calling you to.
Remember, you’re looking for a vision so big that God has to show up! Think back to your original call into youth ministry. What got you into youth ministry in the first place? What was it about youth ministry that got you up every morning excited? Spend some time acknowledging those things to God.
Next, look at your target – your student list/photos. If your group is large, focus in on your student leaders, specifically. What’s your dream for them? What outcome do you want to see in their lives before they graduate from high school and evacuate your ministry? What does unleashing them for “The Great Commandment” and “The Great Commission” actually look like? What does “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” look like in their lives? Dream and pray about mobilizing your students to make disciples who make disciples. Take some time to jot down your thoughts.
Now it’s time for some “transforming prayer.” Ask God to give you fresh eyes for the lost and broken, and a fresh call to see your place in helping “His kingdom come, and His will be done.” Dare to believe in the transformation of your students individually, to become wholly devoted followers of Jesus who make disciples who make disciples. Reflect on what this would look like in the lives of your adult leaders, as well. Dream big about your youth ministry, the school campuses represented in your group, your community, your church. Pull out the map of your community that you brought along and pray over it. Pray for revival, pray for specific students, and pray for your leaders. Jot down some thoughts.
Step # 3: Turn your ideas into a clear, concise, well-crafted bold vision statement.
Go back over your notes and look for common themes. Ask yourself these questions:
- What’s the geographical scope of your vision? At Dare 2 Share, we call this your “Cause” turf – the area of your community that you hope to impact for the kingdom.
- What specific biblical outcomes are you aiming for? Paul modeled this for us. As you consider Paul’s life, it’s evident that disciples were made, people were reached and churches that were planted. All of which were self-replicating. Reflect on the following verses as you answer this question:
- Acts 20:24: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace
- 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Focus here on outcomes—things like new believer baptisms, increased new conversion growth, student-led campus ministry, behavior changes in media habits, students involved in leadership, and a specific percent of students sharing the gospel.
Now it’s time to write a first draft of your vision statement! Here’s a real life example from youth leader Bill Freund’s that might help you:
To give every high school and middle school student in Castle Rock, Colorado, the opportunity to hear, understand and respond to the gospel, through prayerfully training, inspiring, mobilizing and equipping students to engage their friends.
Pray about what you wrote down. Is your vision statement kingdom-focused? Is it big enough that God has to show up in order for you to accomplish it? Is it inspiring? Is it memorable? Then go back and continue to hone and refine it, as God leads.
Next up? Schedule a meeting with your senior pastor for a couple weeks from now. Before you finalize or share your vision statement with others, you’ll want to tap into his wisdom and get his feedback. We’ll talk more specifically about how to prepare for the meeting with your senior pastor in our next energize article. In the meantime, continue to think and pray about what you’ve drafted.