“Give me five minutes with a person’s checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is,” Billy Graham once wisely observed.
In the same way that a checkbook reveals Joe Schmo Christian’s true priorities, a youth leader’s weekly rundown sheet reveals his or her true ministry priorities.
But before you take a hard look at your own weekly rundown sheet, let’s pause and consider three specific things from the book of Acts that seem to have made the early apostles list of “top priorities.” After all, why not learn from them? Particularly when it comes to youth ministry, since the early church was packed and stacked with new Christians who were “young in the faith,” even if they weren’t actually “young in years”?
Upward, Inward and Outward
According to Acts 4:4, just the number of male converts shortly after Pentecost was 5,000…and you thought your youth ministry team was stretched thin trying to deal with so many spiritually immature believers in your youth group!
In the midst of this rapid infusion of new believers we see unfolding in the book of Acts, the early apostles majored on three things. They focused upward on God through prayer, inward on building up the believers through teaching and fellowship, and outward on reaching the lost through evangelism.
1. Upward through Prayer. Through prayer, the early apostles interceded on behalf of the rapidly-growing church. Acts 6:4 tells us that even though the practical, daily, physical needs of the flock were soon clamoring for the attention of the apostles, they quickly realized that they should recruit others to address those physical needs so they could “spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” Prayer was also an integral part of church gatherings.
2. Inward through Teaching and Fellowship. Acts 2:42 tells us that when the early believers gathered together they regularly “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” The apostles taught theological truth to those who had become believers so that they would mature in their walk—so they would become disciples who made disciples. And they gathered together for the purpose of fellowship—not just for the sake of food and fun, but for a great purpose—so that they could “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
Try This! ❯
List out your top three big picture ministry priorities for this week’s youth group gatherings. Then look at your rundown sheet. Do they align?
3. Outward through Evangelism. The book of Acts is one continuous story of the explosive, ever-expanding reach of the gospel. Acts 5:41-42 describes the apostles’ evangelistic preaching of the truth like this: The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.” Advancing the message of the gospel was central to their ministry efforts!
These upward, inward and outward priorities dominated the apostles’ ministry focus. How about you? If you had to list out your top three ministry priorities for your weekly youth group gatherings, what would yours be?
Checking Your Rundown Sheet
Now it’s time to assess how your typical weekly rundown sheet actually aligns with your top three big picture ministry priorities. What do you have on your rundown sheet for this Wednesday or Sunday night?
Take a hard look at how many minutes you allot to each of the following. Then identify which of your top priorities each of these activities actually serves and whether it’s producing fruit that lasts.
ACTIVITY TIME ALLOTTED PRIORITY FRUIT THAT LASTS
Games ____ minutes _________________ Y/N
Worship ____ minutes _________________ Y/N
Fellowship ____ minutes _________________ Y/N
Announcements ____ minutes _________________ Y/N
Teaching time ____ minutes _________________ Y/N
Intercessory prayer ____ minutes _________________ Y/N
Evangelism ____ minutes _________________ Y/N
Casting a bold vision ____ minutes _________________ Y/N
Other ____ minutes _________________ Y/N
Based on your checklist, how are you doing at programming your priorities and investing your time on fruit that last? It may be time to break out the scissors. Because before you can add programming elements that more effectively advance your real priorities, you’ll likely have to trim some other things back.
Take a hard look at your youth ministry rundown sheet. Does it reflect your real priorities? Click To Tweet
So this week, look for opportunities to create space… And next week, we’ll look at a specific gospel advancing idea that you might consider inserting into that space weekly in order to help your ministry more effectively advance the gospel.