I was talking to my friend (and one of the DYM publishers) Steve Spence this week about the first few things to evaluate when you are starting or taking over a youth ministry. It was a great conversation, we had a few different angles, but here are 5 biggies to evaluate when you enter this critical stage:

Build Your Volunteer Team
You are a leader, so assemble a team of youth workers to help carry out the mission and calling of your ministry. First just see who you’ve got, then remove those that need to be let go, train those that have potential and encourage the strong to continue to serve faithfully.

Laser Focus Your Purpose
You have to know know why your ministry exists in order to be successful. Pare down your purpose to a few keywords or one simple sentence. Hang everything else off of that banner. Add nothing unless it directly helps accomplish that mission.

Streamline The Programs
Many youth ministries have a glut of youth ministry programs. There’s an event for every night of the week and spiritual maturity is based on attendance and nothing of substance. Take the time early on in your evaluation to cut programs, it will never be easier (actually it is NEVER easy) then when you start.

Bring on Evangelism
I personally like to start developing the evangelistic heartbeat of a youth ministry, primarily because it is the weakest purpose expressed in many youth ministries and momentum is easy to create when teenagers are trusting in Christ and attendance is growing. This one isn’t for everyone, but it has been essential in my ministry experience and in the stories of many of those I’ve talked to as well!

Evaluate Your Communication
What tools are at your disposal? Do you text, email, Facebook? All of the above? Can parents easily get information about your ministry, mission and programs in a few seconds? What do outsiders think when they’re checking out your ministry?