After thinking about what I wrote in part one of this series, I asked Sara Eden to give us her thoughts about Success in youth ministry. If you’d like to contribute, please feel free to contact me.
Dennis asked me to write a post on how I would identify a successful youth ministry. What success in youth ministry looks like and how it can be defined. I was psyched about the project… until I sat down and started working on it. It quickly became clear to me that I have no idea how to measure success in what I do. No wonder I am so easily discouraged!!
After struggling with where to begin I ended up where I should have started in the first place… prayer. With the Lord’s help, I’ve come to this discovery (a brand new one for me): In my mind, success is about accomplishing a task, achieving a goal, being victorious. The problem is that youth ministry is an on-going process where the goals and tasks are constantly changing and there isn’t a finish line this side of heaven.
There’s always another fire to put out, another parent to reassure, another student to reach or redirect (or the same student needing to be redirected for the millionth time) … I don’t feel like I’ve achieved success because there’s always so much more work to be done!
So instead of a list of things that would make our ministry successful, I ended up with a list of things I want to be constantly striving for…
- I want to be a part of students’ lives.
- I want to speak the truth.
- I want to provide a place for healthy community.
- I want to encourage students to ask the tough questions.
- I want to see students meet Christ for the first time.
- I want Christian students to be reintroduced to Christ in a new and very real way.
- I want students to pray.
- I want to see a passion for social justice and a desire to right the wrongs in the world.
- I want to see students bringing friends to church.
- I want the spiritual journey to be exciting.
- I want to help students choose the narrow path.
- I want to show love and teach love.
- I want to nurture lifelong faith that can weather the storm.
- I want our youth leaders to know that they are an important, irreplaceable part of a team…
- …that their opinions are respected and their dedication is appreciated.
- I want parents to feel that we are walking alongside them on the difficult road of raising teenagers.
- I want our church to encourage students to rise up as leaders and pioneers in our midst.
- I want our community to be a better place because of the work the Lord does through us here.
With God’s grace, if I constantly strive for these things, when I do reach the finish line, I will have succeeded.
Sara Eden Williams is the Director of Children and Youth Ministries at First United Methodist Church of Williamson in upstate New York.
She blogs at saredn.wordpress.com and can be found on twitter @saraden.
All great things to be striving for, and a great reminder to all of us what student ministry is all about. Thanks for sharing!
Barry Maxwell has put together a three part series on Youth Ministry that you may find helpful. I find it extremely encouraging and it asks some tough questions concerning the office of youth minister. He helps us to think about youth ministry in light of what scripture teaches (or doesn’t teach) concerning the office.
Also, if you finish the 3 posts on youth ministry you may want to peruse his blog a little more as there is much wisdom to be gleaned from his humble posts.
You can read more here.
I am the parent of two of the children (16 and 17 years old) Sara ministers to. I just want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to Sara for the fabulous job and extraordinary effort she does with not only my children, but all the children in our church and community!! WE LOVE YOU SARA!!! 🙂 And a note to all other parents reading this….take a moment and give your youth leaders a big hug and remind them how thankful you are that they have followed God’s call for them!!
Thanks, Jrazz, for the links to the posts. I’ve read them and will respond, for sure, probably with my own series of posts. I think there are some fundamental things in his posts that we need to think about.
At the same time, it seems that he lumps all youth ministries into one category that leave out parents and are program based, which I think is erroneous. Not every youth ministry functions like that.
No problem, I will be looking forward to your dialogue on the issue. It is always good to have reflectiion on our thoughts concerning the purpose of the church, who God is and who we are in light of that (as well as what that demands of us as believers).
Have a great weekend.