2016 has been a year of uncertainty. From American politics to church politics you may find yourself reeling. So it's probably time to get back to the elemental priorities that can insure that 2017 is your best year in youth ministry yet!
1. Make prayer numrero uno!
"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people..." 1 Timothy 2:1
When Paul is giving Timothy instructions on how to conduct worship services in the churches he was pouring into he reminds him that priority number one must be prayer. The great apostle knew that for young Tim to navigate the trials of ministry and for these churches to thrive in the midst of pending persecution that their connection with God through prayer had to be the preeminint priority!
This is still true 2,000 years later.
If you want 2017 to be a killer year and for your youth ministry to be a stellar one then you must be make prayer a personal and ministry priority. Read some of the old stuff on prayer by Andrew Murray, EM Bounds and other classic prayer books to get you going (I prefer older books on prayer because I find most of the current books dealing with this subject a bit trite and a whole lot less Biblically convincing and convicting.)
2. Focus on "the quad"!
"And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." Luke 2:52
During our Live it up Tour for Dare 2 Share last year we talked about honoring "God in the Quad" just like Jesus did. He grew in four primary areas according to the good Doctor Luke. He grew intellectually ("wisdom"), physically ("stature"), spiritually ("in favor with God") and relationally ("in favor with...man.")
In the same way we must grow intellectually through reading, reflection and mental refinement. We must grow physically by getting enough exercise, nutrition and, yes, sleep. We must grow spiritually by spending time in prayer, meditation, studying God's Word, journaling, etc. And we must grow relationally by building deep relationships with our family and friends.
I think we'd have a whole lot more fun in youth ministry and be a whole lot more effective at it if we took the time to focus on growing in the quad.
3. Invest in the few!
"One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles...." Luke 6:12,13
Jesus "programmed" for the masses (feeding of the 5,000, mass healings, teaching the crowds, etc) but invested in the few. There were just a handful of men and, yes, women (Luke 8:1-3) who followed him from place to place and were considered his "starting team."
Jesus programmed for the many but invested in the few. If we want to make the most of 2017 we must do the same. We must make sure youth group meetings are progammed to the max and that our full discipleship efforts are focused on the few. In so doing we will be building leaders (both student and adult) who will carry the ministry beyond our abilities.
...Just like Jesus did!
4. Gospelize everything!
"For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2
Paul gospelized every talk, every program, everything. He knew that believers needed to be constantly reminded of the Gospel and unbelievers needed to be introduced to it. He knew that Christians would never get over their need to hear the Gospel. As someone once said, "I preach the Gospel to myself everyday because I forget it everyday."
That's why just "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness...." (John 3:14) we must lift up Christ and his cross before our students. He is the solution to their lust problems, their identity problems, their family problems, their security problems, their significance problems.
For more of what it means to "gospelize" your youth ministry click here.
5. Align your entire ministry to accomplish a BHAG in 2017!
What is a "BHAG"? Some call it a "Big Hairy Audacious Goal." Some Christians call it a "Big Holy Audacious Goal."
Whatever you call it this is a goal that aligns your entire ministry toward a singular end. Maybe it's doubling the number of new believers plugged into your youth ministry in 2017. Or maybe it's building a leadership team that is truly making and multiplying disciples to the 3rd or 4th generation. Perhaps it's to get 25% of your youth group actively sharing their faith once a week.
Pray through it personally and with your leaders. Ask God to give you a 2017 goal that is so big that God has to show up for it to be accomplished.
I think of Mr. Bill in Castle Rock, Colorado who has a goal of seeing every teenager in Castle Rock having an opportunity to hear, understand and respond to the Gospel! Now that's a BHAG!
If you want your best year of youth ministry take these five action steps. Sure, Satan will resist you and problems will arise, but the forward kingdom momentum will help you withstand all comers!
Apply these keys and make 2017 your best ministry year yet!