As I sat in a meeting yesterday, I realized how much of a document person I am. I have an excel spreadsheet or a word document for everything I have done over the past 10 years! Whether it is our retreats, trips, training events, or weekly student ministry meetings – you name it and I have a document for it.
It got me thinking – what are some of the most important documents I have? How often to I refer to them? Am I praying through them on a regular basis?
Every youth pastor wants to experience fruit. We want to see growth take place – at a spiritual and numerical level. For whatever reason we often struggle understanding how to strategize for growth. In other words, we want it, but don’t know how to get it.
I want to share six of the most important youth ministry documents that I have seen utilized to assist in an overall growth strategy. Each document has been prayed over, prayed through, and prayed around – in other words, prayer is extremely important when solidifying growth strategy documents for Youth Ministry.
Organizational Chart – Whether you use Mindnode, Creately, a Word document, or old-fashioned paper and pen, it is extremely important to put your Youth Ministry organizational chart on paper. It doesn’t matter if your ministry has 20 students or 2000 students, we need to be able to see where the gaps and holes are within our leadership teams. An org chart will also give us the ability to see vision and dream big in regards to where we would like our leadership teams to be!
Mission Statement & Core Values – What one statement defines why you do what you do? What do you value and what is important to your ministry? One day I will write a blog on the purpose of youth ministry. In other words, why do we do what we do? I believe that can be clearly answered through a mission statement and core values. Our mission statement is “Empowering students of Cape Coral to live out a deeper relationship with Christ through discipleship, leadership, and missional involvement.” Everything we do flows out of this – whether it is a youth service, event, trip, or small group. It is important to also develop leadership teams around you that can hold you accountable to your mission statement and core values!
Vision Statement – The type of vision statement I am referring to is much different from a mission statement. It is the vehicle that drives your mission statement. Your vision is the practical layout of your ministry. As we strive for growth, we must develop a plan for growth – how are we going to get to where God is taking us? What events, services, and areas are we going to focus on in order to achieve the growth God desires of us?
A little over 2 years ago we created our Vision 500 Strategy. It was easy to explain – what practical steps do we need to put in place to establish a youth ministry of 500 students? It was a three-phase strategy that lasts three years from start to finish. Our focus was on campus ministry & outreach, small group & community, and leadership development. While I am not going to say we have stuck to it completely, we have seen incredible growth as we have kept our focus on achieving the growth God has for us. It is amazing to see our ministry directed by clear vision established by an incredible leadership team!
I would always recommend creating a vision statement that covers at least a 12-18 month time period. It is important to know how you are going to get to where God is taking you! Don’t feel overwhelmed or confused if you are lost in the vision process. Pray and ask God clearly what He has for you and your ministry. Form a Core Vision Team that helps you establish clarity and direction. Seek the counsel of the leaders, students, and families God has placed around you. Finally, lay it out on paper and clearly communicate it with those connected to your ministry!
Leadership Development Plan – What are you doing to develop the leaders God has placed alongside you? So many youth ministries have hidden all-star leaders that are not being used to their fullest capabilities. We not only struggle identifying these leaders, but we struggle empowering them to take on responsibilities within ministry. Are you inviting them to an exciting leadership opportunity, while challenging them to become more like Christ everyday? Our leadership development plan includes a leadership pipeline and clear responsibilities for each position. It gives room for growth for all of our leaders, while laying out clear expectations and guidelines for each of them.
Leadership training is vital for all areas of ministry! This must not be a time to only share your ministry calendar with your leaders, but instead, a time to challenge them spiritually and empower them to do more. Very rarely have I had a leader tell me no in regards to stepping up in leadership. On the other hand, I have heard countless stories of individuals being held back from leading because of a lack of empowerment and direction.
Discipleship Strategy – What are you doing to develop disciples who are developing disciples? Jesus clearly laid out the vision for the church in Matthew 28. He did not call us to make Christians; He called us to make disciples! I know that sounds bold, but to me it is truth. What objectives, goals, and strategies have you put in place to see a culture of discipleship established within your ministry?
We recently began working with 3DM, an incredible discipleship organization that helps churches create a culture of discipleship. They help ministries establish a language that speaks to the importance of spiritual growth. We have begun implementing it into the life of our student ministry. Another great resource is Duffy Robbins book, Building a Youth Ministry that Builds Disciples. It radically changed my mindset in regards to discipleship within the context of student ministry. We cannot miss our calling and God-given purpose as ministry leaders!
Connections Commitment – How are you connecting your students into a deeper relationship with Christ, while also connecting them into community? Students desire to feel connected. Whether it is to a team, a musician, or a youth ministry, middle and high school students want to feel as if they are a part of something bigger than themselves! We recently launched our Connections Team, whose goal is to connect every student to a mentor, a small group leader, a leadership opportunity, and ultimately a deeper relationship with Christ.
It begins with new student follow-up and continues with connections into small groups, ministry opportunities, and discipleship. We encourage all of our small group leaders to commit at least 45 minutes a week outside of our services in which they are communicating with students.
Ultimately, it is our responsibility to help our students experience a deeper relationship with Christ! We have seen incredible growth through the implementation of these 6 documents. While it has given us clear vision and direction, the most important part of every one of these documents is the time spent in prayer. Anybody can fill out an organizational chart or create a vision statement for their ministry, but when we follow God’s leading – He will fill us with exactly what we need to see the growth that can only happen through His hand!
I would love to hear your feedback in regards to the most important documents within your ministry. I am more than happy to share any of the documents we currently have. Feel free to contact me and I can email them to you!