Many youth leaders who have burned out can attest to the fact that chasing the next big idea or program can leave youth workers worn out and disappointed.
Rather than creating a ministry that is dependent on the success of individual programs or creative ideas, it is imperative that youth leaders are driven by a Mission statement and VISION, which become the foundation or bedrock of the ministry. It is from this vision that all plans, tactics and strategies grow these are the essentials that can be foundational to successful and sustainable ministry.
1. What is a mission and vision? A mission statement tells the world why you exist and what your purposes are. Think of your vision document as you and your team fleshing out in great detail what every facet of your ministry will look like in 5 years. Does this sound exciting? Didn’t think so. Creating these documents is a long, boring, and tedious task, but it is very likely the most important thing you will ever do. Just as a degree completion plan sets the parameters for coursework that leads to a degree, and blueprints provide the plans for a solid home, a vision will guide your planning and programming, your curriculum and even the way you recruit volunteers.
2. Determine where you are at NOW - If your team has created a vision for where you want your ministry to go in the future the next essential is to give your ministry an honest evaluation of where it stands at the present. Look at each of those “dream” principles or characteristics in your vision and begin to evaluate how far you are from making that goal a reality. For example, if it is in your vision to use a short-term mission trip to create relational and spiritual growth you must evaluate how far you are from achieving this goal. If you want a ministry of small groups you must determine how far you are from that goal. Do this step for every “vision” category i.e. volunteers, curriculum, programming, community service.
3. Bridge the gap - Things get more exciting in this final step when youth leaders take the gaps noted in step two and begin working towards their vision with tactical steps and processes. This can be an exciting but scary process. Using the example above, you may discover that an old minimally effective event stands between you and your mission trip. Unfortunately you can’t do both due to budget concerns and volunteer burn out but a solid well thought out vision gives you the confidence to scrap the event and begin planning for that life changing mission trip. In this final step it is important to devise the plans for moving away from the things you are doing that don’t fit your vision, and moving towards the events or activities that are more in line with the goals of your team.
A few additional tips for effective vision and planning include:
Create a vision team from a variety of disciplines; it is no more unspiritual to have a business person on your vision team than it is to have a trained carpenter on a renovation team. Utilize the minds of people who do this for a living!
Recruit members of church leadership to serve on your team. If you are going to be changing elements of your ministry you WILL have pushback. Create allies in leadership positions so you can be patient in seeing your plan to completion.
Love your vision, like your plan. Your vision, if done correctly will be forged through hours of planning, debating and PRAYING. Stick with it… and let God bless it through the dedicated work of your team.
This is a guest post by Aaron W. Cuyler who serves as Youth Pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Madison, OH. This post came from a discussion in our Facebook Group, Youthmin.org: Everyday Youth Pastors, the best place for connecting with other Youth Workers on the interwebz.