In Puerto Rico, we have a saying that goes like this: “That is like plowing the water.”
It’s not “plowing in water,” which is a very good strategy because it makes the soil easier to cut. No, it refers to trying to plow the actual water instead of the ground. Picture a man shins-deep in a river, frantically trying to make a groove on the surface of the water with his hoe. How long until he gives up? It’s a futile endeavor!
In the same way, doing ministry without a set goal or clear vision is like plowing the water. I know it felt that way for me when I first started in youth ministry. I was both excited and scared. I had a lot of energy and a lot of ideas of activities to do with my students. But after a while, I was sore from all the movement and no progress. That’s when I learned in my skin what cricket umpire Bill Copeland meant when he said: “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”
Every Believer’s Goal
As Christians we have it easy and hard at the same time. Easy, because our boss, Jesus, laid out our goal very clearly for us: “make disciples of all nations.” And hard because it’s the greatest, boldest vision statement ever. It’s so huge we often don’t know how to even start.
A trick to make this daunting task fit our brains a little easier is to chop it into bite sizes. For example, at Dare 2 Share, we’ve determined what portion of Jesus’s vision to make our responsibility. It goes like this:
“Every teen, everywhere, hearing the Gospel from a friend.”
Granted, that still represents 1 billion souls worldwide that we need to reach, but that is our lane, and it focuses our prayers, our plans, and our resources.
Catch the Vision
You are part of this mission too! Maybe you end up phrasing it a little differently, but let me encourage you to include all of the elements of the statement, starting with “every teen.”
Start by answering some questions:
- How many students are connected with your youth ministry?
- How many students are in your area of influence? Think about schools, neighborhoods, clubs, sports teams, orphanages, and the like.
Chances are, the students in your ministry represent a very small percentage of all the students in your area.
Catching this bold vision starts with believing that every student is worthy to hear the message of the Gospel—that Christ died for their sins every bit as much as He did for ours. That He loves them deeply and wants to spend eternity with them. That He does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Get on Your Knees
When you think about the hell students in your community are going through right now and the Hell they’re heading to without Jesus, it should drive you to your knees in prayer.
Start by committing to pray consistently and passionately that the Lord will help you reach them for His Kingdom. Recruit other leaders to pray as well. Pray that God will break your heart for these students, and ask Him to reveal to you how to own your portion of His vision.
Write It Down
As He provides direction, put it in writing. It might take several drafts, but you need that goal front and center to guide your efforts. And make it BOLD:
Beyond your personal capacity to achieve
Outcome (not activity) driven
Leverages teenagers to lead the way
Driven by addition and multiplication
Need inspiration? Here are some vision statements from our Gospel Advancing leader community:
- To have 1,380 Gospel conversations and 90 professions of faith, with 50% of new believers connected in disciple-multiplication relationships, by the end of the school year.
- To have 60% of our students actively engaged in relational evangelism, resulting in 35% new conversion growth by the end of the school year.
God will receive all the glory when you begin to reach every teen in your area of influence—your “cause turf.”
To accomplish this BOLD task, I have a feeling you’ll realize that you’ll need to partner up with other ministries in your area. But that is a topic for another day…