“Implementation of promises is as important as making them.” – Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy
Every company and brand makes you a promise about their product. If you buy our stuff you will,
- feel better
- lose weight
- gain confidence
Consider some of the more familiar promises you’ve heard
Geico: “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.
BMW: “The Ultimate Driving Machine”
Walmart: “Save money. Live better.”
Now, put your youth group name down, what’s your big promise?
A promise is not a mission or vision statement. A promise says, this is what will happen if…. The three big promises every youth ministry needs to make are.
What will happen if you come?
Consider how many times you’ve invited a new student to your group. What did you say? “Come, it will be fun” or “You’ll meet knew friends”. These aren’t promises, they’re more like hopes if you’re not intentionally making sure that student you invited is having fun or meeting new friends.
Of course, there are variables. How hard is this kid trying to have fun themselves? Let’s assume a student believes you, they will have fun and they will meet knew friends. How hard are you trying to make good on that promise? Have you planned that particular night to be fun or did you invite them to a worship and communion night and expect them to have fun at that?
Here are some other promises you could make
- You’ll encounter God in a new and fresh way
- It will be the best hour of your week
- You’ll learn something new about God
If you want student to show up, you need to make them a big promise and then do your very best to over deliver what you promised them.
What will happen if you stay?
After a student has come once or twice and you’ve made good on the promises you made them, you’d probably like them to stay? Why? This student could attend any youth group in your town or city, why should they stay at yours? If they commit themselves to your leadership, what will happen?
If you hang with us, you will
- become a leader in six months
- understand the Bible better, quicker
- discover your purpose for living
- you’ll find life giving community
- you will be loved unconditionally
Health clubs say things like, “if you join us, you’ll have access to one on one coaching”. That’s a strong promise to someone who wants to work out but needs help.
Teenagers need a relationship with the Lord, but you have to find out what they want and make a big promise to get them there to hear about this relationship.
The worse thing you can do to a teenager is make a big (or any) promise and not fulfill it. Trust me, I’ve raised three teenagers. I broke a promise to my daughter once, and it cost me a dog. Keep your promises.
What will happen if you lead (serve)
I once heard one of my students say to a newer student, “If you stay with us, you’ll be a leader in no time.” That was a big promise, one this student believed because I made this promise to her once and then she became my intern a few years later.
To me, service and leadership are the end game. These are both part of the bigger picture of discipleship. Along the way students would learn what it means to follow Jesus and I gave them opportunities through altar time and service time to make those commitments.
My big promises in youth ministry concerting leadership were,
- you’ll learn more about yourself
- you’ll have to trust God more
- you’ll discover your potential
I never promised anything specific like you’ll get to preach or sing, but those opportunities were made available to those who showed promise.
Promises go hand in hand with design. Geico has already figured out how save you 15% in 15 minutes. They can make that promise because they’ve perfected the process.
The only way you can make big promises to your teenagers and keep them is to perfect the process, the best way you can. You have to perfect your new guest process, you have to perfect your new member process and you have to perfect your discipleship process.
Don’t read the word “perfect” as getting the process perfect, read it as perfecting, tweaking and even throwing it out and changing it. Geico, BMW and Walmart are always changing to fulfill the promises they make.
The better news is, you don’t have to worry about God keeping his promises, He’s good for them. Trust God and His Word, as you make your promises. Ask for the ideas, strength and determination to all in your power and your teams power to fulfill them.
Here’s just one of God’s promises to you
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV
Making big promises and keeping them may be the best growth strategy a youth ministry can have.
Want to know my five foundational builders for youth ministry. Promises are one of them, check out the other four.
Let me make a big promise you, if you sign up for my Ministry Minded Coaching Group, I’ll help you work through your biggest youth ministry challenges to help you design a successful youth ministry.