I would love to make Fridays a shout out day of great stuff I have been reading as well. Sharing the wealth, if you will. Post is written by a friend Nate Davis doing some great things in CO. Click here to head to his blog.
When I first began working in student ministry, I honestly had no idea what I was suppose to be doing or why I was suppose to be doing it… I thought that hanging out with students and planning fun events was all I had to do in order to be ‘successful’… If I could get the kids to show up, I thought I was doing a pretty good job.
Now before you start thinking that I was completely foolish [although I will admit that I was a bit foolish], I did at least have a few goals that motivated me… I wanted students to know who Jesus was, and that they didn’t have to go through this life on their own. I still believe that those are great goals to have… Yet experience has taught me that having goals alone is not enough. We need methodology.
It’s imperative that we start addressing the needs [both felt and real] of the student we serve when we think about the how and why of ministry instead of focusing solely on the things that we enjoy or the things that we are good at… For this to happen we need to understand what the purpose of a student ministry even is, because deep down, we know that it’s about more than fun and games.
If we were to boil it down to a basic statement, it would look something like this… The purpose of a student ministry is to produce disciples who are following Jesus–both now, and in the future [ie after they leave high school]… Once we understand this purpose, we can start to come up with some ‘sign posts’ that will help us determine whether or not we are moving in the right direction. A good indicator of this will be the health of our ministry..
We need to be growing [spiritually and numerically] and going [serving the local community and the world at large].
Getting to a point where we are growing and going can look different based on our context, but it will still have a few basic components that will be common regardless of programs offered… So where to begin? To start, we need to think strategically about the way we program. We need to be more holistic.
I think Acts 2:42 provides us with an excellent model to work with when it describes what the early church devoted themselves to doing [apostle’s teaching, breaking of bread, fellowship, and prayer] as a part of their holistic discipleship strategy. In the ministry I lead over, we have taken the things seen in Acts 2:42 and re-framed into four categories that make sense to both students and leaders:
- Communion [Worship–Both individual and corporate]
- Community [Fellowship–Meeting the ‘felt’ needs of our students]
- Character [Discipleship–Meeting the ‘real’ needs of our students]
- Commission [Mission and Evangelism–Living out our faith in the world, both local and global]
When planning any kind of program or event for our ministry, we ask ourselves how it fits into one of these four categories… If it doesn’t fit, we chuck it out. Having this framework allows us to be intentional about  how we program, and  ensuring that we aren’t lopsided [i.e. making sure we hit each of these four categories on a regular basis without focusing too much on one of them] in what we offer to students.
To produce disciples who are following Jesus years after they have left our ministry [the goal of a healthy ministry], each of these areas needs to be addressed because each one represents an important component of a disciples life.
The true measure of our success as youth workers isn’t going to be how many students we can get to show up to our programs. It won’t be how many kids we can get to go to camp… While these things can be indicators of how we are doing in the now, they don’t tell us the whole picture.
The true measure of success is going to be whether or not the students we are leading today are still following Jesus 20 years down the road…
For students to get to that point, we to make sure we are meeting ALL of their needs today–both the real, and the felt.