On Monday’s blog post, we started a discussion about how operate as a ministry within the church. The question was, Does the mission, structure, goals, branding, and activities of your youth ministry align with the mission, vision, goals, structure, branding, and activities of the church you are serving in? Or, are you running your ministry as though you are another group that uses the building one night week?
If we’re being honest, it might be a tough question to hear. I know I was convicted when I realized that I wasn’t working with the church. For years, I led a student ministry that operated with its own mission, vision, purpose, and structure. The only thing we shared with the church was in name. In doing my own thing (so to speak) I found that I was siloing the student ministry from the rest of the ministries of the church. And while it might not seem like a big deal, it can become a big deal.
We are All One Body.
Your youth ministry is part of the larger body of Christ. I don’t think any church governing board ever said, “Hey, let’s hire some body to come in and work with our students so we can focus on the more important things of the church. We’ll give him some space in the basement, a couple bucks as his budget, and whatever he can do will be fine for us.”
Your church, if it’s healthy, has a vision, a purpose, a mission. There are goals of reaching people, sharing the gospel, discipling believers, and growing a community of the faithful. If they have taken their role seriously, they have developed a strategy and are working towards their goals. The last thing they want is a rogue youth worker doing what they thing is best.
No, I think the church leadership want a student ministry that works within the boundaries of ministry established by the church. And so, we as the youth workers need to learn, understand, and work within the context of ministry in our churches. Embrace the strategy, vision, mission or purpose. Work to understand how the leaders see and navigate the path that leads new believers into the large community of the church. Maybe instead of leading your own student mission trip, you begin to consider what it would look like to be a church mission trip; teens and adults serving together. We are part of the congregation, an extension of care for a small population of the larger church. Thus we need to support and align ourselves with the mission, vision, and strategy of the church.
The longer we continue to separate the student ministry from the ministry of the church, the longer the church we continue to see the youth ministry as something nice we do for kids. We are part of a much larger ministry. It’s time that we start thinking and acting that way.
Written by Jay Higham
Something to think about…
- It is super easy to only concern yourself with the vision and mission of the student ministry, especially if you feel like there’s no vision or mission for your church. Take some time to talk with your pastor about where the church is heading. What’s the vision, mission or purpose of the church? What does the ministry strategy look like? How are they reaching people with the gospel?
- If the church does have a vision and mission, where or how does the youth ministry fit into that vision and plan?
- Evaluate the vision/mission of the student ministry. Are you working towards the same goals as the church? Or, are you building a silo around what you are doing with students?
- Contact a local youth worker or a trusted friend in the church or ministry and talk about what you’re discovering. Ask them what they think about the differences between the student ministry and the ministry of the church.