I have been to enough leadership conferences to know that the pastor is supposed to constantly promote the vision of the church. This helps remind everyone why the church exists and what it wants to accomplish. Recently I have been thinking about how this should translate for our student ministry. I began to realize how important it would be to remind the students why we exist as a student ministry. If you work with students for about 30 seconds, you know that reminders are always necessary. I often get text messages asking what time a weekly program starts by students who have been to the program each week for the last five months. They just happened to have forgotten the times. So, reminding students what we value and what we are trying to accomplish surely needs to be restated often.
Last night we had a vision casting time where we discussed where we have been as a student ministry and where we were going the rest of this year. I took time to give some clear direction for what the students are expected to do and what they can expect from the ministry. Truthfully this blew some of the kids’ minds. We have many students who never considered that they were a part of something like this. They just knew that they showed up when their parents sent them and hung out for a while. They had no idea that this was supposed to do something for them.
I also took some time to hear from our students. I like to know what they like best about the student ministry. I don’t like to hear it, but I need to know what they don’t like about the student ministry. I also wanted to know if they could articulate something that they have learned through participating in the student ministry. I received some great responses that will help shape our ministry going into the fall semester.
Here’s the only problem with talking about why your student ministry exists: You need to know the answer first. If you don’t have something to be working towards, then maybe kids do just show up and maybe you do too. Spend some time seriously thinking about what you are trying to accomplish with the time and influence that God has given you with your students. Spend some time asking whether your programs and approach are accomplishing these things. When everything is aligned, tell your students, their parents, the volunteers, the random guy on the back pew. Then continue to remind them of the vision so that you can accomplish that vision.
The fruit of our vision casting was obvious. The students left energized because they were a part of something bigger than themselves. They left remembering that participating in the student ministry demanded life change not a status quo life. The left challenged to make a difference and bring people into the community that we have established so that they might also experience life change. One other thing that it did was to give me a foundation of expectations. From now on I can reference that group time when I need to say things like “emotional drama is dumb and that is not what we are about here so work it out” or “so how is the lesson last week changing your life and helping you become more like Christ.” Helping people know where we are and where we are going sure makes it a lot easier to get where we want to be going.