There are a lot of ways to get somewhere. There are a lot of resources in youth ministry. One of the things that I remember from my first week was the number of catalogs waiting in my mail box at the church. There was a stack almost two feet high with advertisements for small group curriculum, music, and conferences. I had mailings from magicians and gospel quartets. Talk about diversity. So here I was with all of these options, and I didn’t even know what my program looked like or was going to look like.
I must admit that I succumbed to some of the flashier flyers. I joined a video site, bought some books, and I even purchased a drum set for the band. If I had it to do over again, I would have waited before spending any money. It is tempting to buy material that looks so amazing that it will change the way that we think of church, but the reality is that it may not be right for your program or your group. It will take time to learn the culture of those you serve. You need to see where they are and not just consider them to be where you want them to be spiritually.
You also need to have a vision for what you want your program to be about. If you are brand new to student ministry, please understand that there are a lot of ways to minister to students. There is not one model or process that you must buy into to have success. However, you need to develop a process or a model that will work for your group. You need to have a vision about what your program stands for and how you will go about reaching and discipling students.
Once you have a vision for your ministry, then it is time to prioritize your needs. Something that can be difficult for new ministers to understand is the difference between budgeted money and money that you can spend. Most churches will give you a budget, but that does not mean you will ever actually be able to spend that much money because the church may not receive that much money that year. When you prioritize your spending, you will be able to maximize the impact that your money can make. Some things you will certainly need such as small group curriculum. Other things such as a couch or shirts are not necessary, but they could certainly have a value for your program.