When it comes to New Year's resolutions you may think more about things like shedding that excess eggnog-induced weight gain or getting your financial act together than anything youth ministry oriented. But as we approach the New Year I encourage you to take on a new challenge this year. Make it your New Year's resolution to, through God's strength, build a Gospel Advancing ministry.
A Gospel Advancing ministry is one which relentlessly pursues the mission of Jesus by relationally multiplying disciples resulting in radical Gospel transformation. This value-based philosophy of ministry can be used in virtually any youth ministry model.
If this appeals to you here are 7 resolutions you should make this year:
1. To make intercessory prayer a bigger priority in your life and ministry.
Make prayer the top priority and you will get divine traction like never before. Pray for your teenagers and have them pray for their unreached friends and a sense of God's presence, power and purpose will cover your youth room like the Shekinah glory covered the temple in the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 7:1-3.)
When we make intercessory prayer the engine, not the caboose, of our outreach efforts, then we let God, not our puny strategies, lead the way!
2. To equip your teenagers to relationally share their faith.
Challenge each of your teenagers to start praying for one, two or even three of their unreached friends, pursuing them with the love of God and persuading with the truth of the Gospel. If they don't quite know how to share the Gospel, have them download the free Dare 2 Share app or purchase the Dare 2 Share Field Guide for them. Better yet, get them out to a week at Lead THE Cause happening in 5 cities across the country next summer!
3. To recruit leaders who model a passion for God, growth and the Gospel.
If you want your teenagers to pray, relationally evangelize and grow deeper in their faith, choose student and adult leaders who pray, share their faith and are growing deeper in their faith. As Jesus reminds us in Luke 6:40, "The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher."
Choose the kinds of leaders you want the rest of your teenagers to emulate because when they are "fully trained" they "will be like their teacher."
4. To strategically begin to multiply disciples.
This may seem a little daunting at first but it's what Jesus called us to do. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus gave us what should be our ultimate resolution...to make disciples of all nations. We are to "make disciples" and teach "them to obey everything" that Jesus commanded...including the call to make disciples.
But is it possible for spastic, hormone-filled, twitchy teenagers to not just make, but also multiply disciples? YES! Not only was I the product of a youth ministry that did this on a massive scale, but I have witnessed more and more youth ministries across the nation where this brand of disciple multiplication takes place naturally and effectively. For help with this check out Sonlife's awesome strategy called 4 Chair Discipling.
5. To launch a bold vision to reach your community for Jesus.
Jesus told his disciples they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world. What is the equivalent for our youth ministry efforts? Across the street, across the tracks and across the world! We need to have stratgies that help us reach our own communities, the tougher parts of our cities and the entire world!
But it all starts with your Jerusalem. Have you identified your "cause turf" (streets to the North, South, East and West of your church) which God is calling you to reach? Pray God gives you a vision so bold that you'll have to recruit other youth groups to join the effort and that God will have to show up in a big way!
6. To start measuring the right things.
There's an old business maxim that says, "You get what you measure." If you measure attendance you'll get attendance. If you measure budget you'll get money. If you measure disciples made and multiplied you'll get disciples made and multiplied.
In Acts 2:41 this is exactly what the Good Doctor Luke measured, "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."
The number of new believers being added to your youth group is infinitely more valuable than how many teenagers are attending your group. I can set poodles on fire to increase my youth group numbers (and secretly want to) but that doesn't necessarily translate into good growth. To start measuring things rightly start asking the right questions. Questions like, "What percentage of my youth group came to Christ as a direct result of our youth group efforts?" and "How many of my teenagers are actively sharing their faith?"
7. To program your true priorities.
Stop just saying that prayer and relational evangelism are true youth group priorities if you're not programming them into your youth group meetings and calendar. Our ministry values are either true priorities or empty platitudes depending on whether or not they get programmed.
What are some easy ways to begin programming your priorities?
-Do what Mr. Bill does in Castle Rock, Colorado and give teenagers five minutes every week to share stories of those they are engaging in Gospel conversations.
-Do what Tyree Sterling does in Baltimore, Maryland and give the Gospel in every youth group meeting.
-Do what Aaron Bolduc does in Grand Rapids, Michigan and program prayer to reach schools and unreached friends in between worship songs.
-Do what Carrie Evans does in Broomfield, Colorado and regularly train your entire leadership team in what it means to build and lead a Gospel Advancing Ministry.
Here are 7 resolutions every youth leader (who is serious about reaching non Christian teenagers) should make this New Year. And, by the way, if you want to dive deeper into how to do this effectively, get my new book Gospelize Your Youth Ministry as a belated Christmas gift to yourself and your adult volunteers.
Happy Gospel Advancing New Year!