Reflections on Starting
Four years ago, we started a youth ministry program at the Mexico Baptist Theological Seminary. Last Saturday, the first graduate received his Bachelor’s in Youth Ministry from our program.
It has been the work of pioneers. We are doing something that is not being done by many people. We were some of the first people to do this in Latin America.
So here I am, four and a half years after getting to Mexico, reflecting on the beginning of this “formal youth ministry training program.”
What does it take to start a youth ministry education program?
Teamwork – I haven’t been the only one involved. Boyce College, Youth Ministry International, and a host of other people have been a part of this. It would be better if I had more of a team on the ground here in Mexico, but I’m certainly grateful for those who have formed part of our team these last four years.
In the future: I will form a team first. In order to be successful (and less stressed), you need to have a group who shares your vision, living and working with you daily.
Connections – The more you can connect with people in the country, the better off you will be. There is ministry happening, and it’s important to find out who’s doing what. More in-country connections would have helped us greatly. The in-country people don’t have to be directly involved in your ministry, but they do need to know what you’re doing and be willing to back you up and talk up your program.
In the future: I will reach out much faster to the other organizations that are already in the country or city, sharing the vision and seeing how we can form alliances to be more effective.
Perception – Perception is reality. You must be sure you are partnering with the right people. Sometimes, we have suffered because of the perception, or reputation, of our seminary (regardless of if this perception is correct or not). You must be aware of the perceptions of others.
In the future: I will work harder to create a better perception for the overall seminary/school and the youth ministry program.
Investment – It takes a great investment of time, money, and effort to get something of this magnitude off the ground. You have to know that it will be difficult, both financially and personally, to achieve anything worthwhile. Be willing to invest greatly in the dream.
In the future: I will measure the amount of work it takes to get something done, and I won’t let that stop me from achieving success. I think we’ve done a good job, and there are always things that could be done better (fundraising, team building, etc).
Vision – You must remain faithful to your vision. Helen Keller once said, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.” You must not let what you see allow you to waiver from the vision. Despite the obstacles and barriers, stay true to the vision. Be dedicated to what you do, and you will see results.
In the future: I will share the vision more with others. I want people to buy into what we are doing. It’s important for our success that others see the big picture.
We’ve certainly not done everything right. I’ve learned a lot about leadership and ministry in the last 5 years. It has been worth it, and I’m looking forward to what is in store for the future.
(Images by: Ali K)