This is part one in my seven part series on pillars of youth ministry infrastructure.
Tents need poles. Houses need frames. Bodies need bones.
Like all of the things above, youth ministry needs an infrastructure to keep from being just a pile of programs lying on the floor. Youth ministries without infrastructure are being held up by hype and feel goods. Nothing wrong with a dose of each of these, in fact these can be a part of the infrastructure, but they cannot hold a youth ministry program up.
Think of it this way, without infrastructure, it’s like blowing up a ballon to its fullest capacity only to watch the air leak out. The balloon (youth ministry) is only as big as the one (the youth pastor) blowing air into it. The problem is that doesn’t matter how fast or powerful the youth pastor blows, the balloon will always leak. This kind of youth ministry is exhausting and unsustainable.
So, what kind of infrastructure does your youth ministry need to have long term success?
Pillar #1 A Vision/Mission
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. Proverbs 29:18
The leader of any group must have an idea of who they are, where they are going and a process for them to get there.
- Who are you?
Who you are determines who your ministry will be. I grew up with a passion for winning people to Christ, so my youth ministries were evangelistic in nature. I had a deep love for studying God’s word to I tried to pass that on as well. I loved the underdog and the misfits and that who I chose to reach.
Now, you always have to adapt to the culture you are in. You can’t make a ministry love everything you love, but, over time, you can make your mark and see some student pick up what you’re laying down.
2. Where are you going?
As the leader, you have to say to the group follow me. To where? Where do you want to take this youth ministry over the next year, three years, five year? What experiences do you want them to have? What do you want them to see? What will happen when you get there? These are promises you will make to your youth ministry. Follow me and this will happen, this is what you will see and if you come, it will be better than where you are.
3. How Will You Get There?
You’ve told your group who you/they are. You’ve told them where you want to go and you’ve invited them to go along. And now, you must tell them how you’re going to get there. The process.
Head football coach of the University of Alabama, Nick Saban has a process for his football team. He doesn’t emphasis the next game and it’s understood that a championship is the goal, but according to Wikipedia
Nick Saban formulated process thinking as it pertains to American football with the help of psychiatryprofessor Lionel Rosen while Saban was the head coach at Michigan State University. Saban and Rosen broke down complicated tasks like football games—and entire seasons—down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Rosen emphasized that the average football play lasts only seven seconds so coaches and players should concentrate only on those seconds, take a rest between plays, then do it all over again.
You need a process for just about every piece of youth ministry you do.
What is your process for making disciples?
What is your process for planing your meeting?
What is your process for teaching evangelism?
What is your process for making student leaders?
What is your process for adding adults to your team?
Nick Saban has six national championships. He’s won five with Alabama and one with LSU. He has a process. I’m not asking you to adopt his process, I’m asking you to develop your own process.
What are the key thoughts or philosophy you want people to have?
What are the main spiritual attitudes necessary for success?
God has a process (Genesis 1 and 2)
Jesus has a process (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
Paul has a process (Epistles)
Nick Saban tells his players to “trust the process”. Nick believes winning and personal growth are at the end of the process if everyone is doing what their supposed to do. What’s at the end of the process? Why can your students trust the process?
Determine your processes and you’ll go a long way to not only keeping your youth ministry in tact, but building upon it.
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