Youth ministry is like a road trip, and the first step for any trip is knowing where you’re going – your destination. Having a simple GREAT Destination Statement like the following can go a long way toward helping you focus your efforts and resources toward a targeted outcome:
“Our desire is to produce as many teenagers as possible who ________________________________…by the time they graduate.”
Once you zero in on your destination, it’s time to get prepared for your trip! Here’s a quick road trip checklist to help you.
Is Your Tank Full?
Intellectually, physically, spiritually and relationally, there’s no getting away from the reality that your teenagers look to you as their model and coach for how to do life with Jesus.
Luke 2:52 tells us this was true for Jesus as He prepared for His public ministry: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
Challenging ourselves to become the men and women God is calling us to be is central to our ministry impact! No amount of bells and whistles can make up for a shallow spiritual walk or lack of godly character. Keeping your tank full is both a fearsome responsibility and an awesome source of spiritual strength and power.
On a scale from 1 to 10 assess how full your tank is intellectually, physically, spiritually and relationally. How do you think this affects your teenagers?
Does Your Youth Ministry Have One or More Flat Tires?
There are any number of challenges in your ministry situation that could let the air out of your tires as you set out for your GREAT destination.
One or more of the following may represent your ministry’s potential flat tires:
- Church politics
- Lack of family time
- Parent challenge
- Lack of adult leaders
- Church legalism
- Personal spiritual disciples
- Biblical illiteracy
- Lack of time
This week identify which flat tire you are going to start praying about and working on fixing with God’s help.
Do You Have the Right MAP?
MAP stands for Ministry Action Plan. What is your ministry action plan for getting your teenager from point A to point B? Do you have one or are you just going with the flow? A series on self-esteem. A dash of sex ed. A ski trip here and summer camp there. Stir them all together and VIOLA!…you have a youth ministry. But does that really produce multiplying, fully-devoted followers of Christ?
If you feel like your youth ministry hasn’t been going anywhere productive, it may be time to look at getting a new MAP.
A good Ministry Action Plan (MAP) answers two key questions about your destination:
- Which programs do I need to keep, throw away, adjust or create to get my students where I want them to go? Every youth group meeting, retreat, conference, camp and curriculum should help drive as many of your teenagers as possible to your desired destination. If they don’t, then axe them and substitute something that does.
- Am I (and my volunteers) investing enough of our lives into the teenagers who are willing to take the journey with us? If not, how can we begin to do that? After all, Jesus did more intense training and life-on-life discipleship with His inner circle of key disciples who were willing to go the distance with Him.
Are You Celebrating Your Mile Markers?
Mile markers show us that we have been making progress. We’ve all heard, “Are we there yet?” a million times on mission trips. That’s because we all want to know we are making progress. Every mile marker your teenagers pass is progress toward your destination! So what might those mile markers look like?
- Accepting Jesus.
- Learning their faith.
- Living their faith.
- Making disciples.
Each of these steps is a mile marker along the road and you should celebrate each one, even as you make every effort to continue on down the road with them to get them to the next mile marker. But don’t settle for teens just surviving after high school when God wants them to thrive!
Strive to Go the Distance, but Face Your Realities
As you work to move all your students forward on their journey, be aware that all your teenagers may not make it all the way to your targeted destination. The Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:3-8 re-enforces this reality. Realistically, some teenagers won’t even get on the bus with you. Other teenagers will only stay on board for part of the journey. John 6:66 tells us, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” But Jesus stayed the course and focused on producing a key group of disciples who were fully surrendered to Him and His cause.
We should too! For these sold out disciples are the key to multiplying your ministry efforts out for years and decades to come in the lives they touch and the souls they save.
So this week, run your youth ministry through the above checklist and see how it measures up. If there are any areas you’d like to change, do so. Just make sure you’ve got your road trip essentials covered.