One of the great disadvantages of a ministry that you are just taking over is that they’ve experienced severe program creep. Over the years they added this retreat, this event, this overnighter never at the expense of another existing program. What happens is that you’ve now built a massive youth ministry where no one can attend anything, you hardly have space to promote things and you honestly are just doing a lot of things “okay” instead doing a few things “well”. At some point you’re going to come in with a sharp programming scalpel and start hacking and slashing, but at this early step is to simply survey all that the existing youth group offers. List everything that your church/youth ministry offers to teenagers, be exhaustive! It’ll pay off as you come up with your new plans.

  • What camps and retreats do we have in place?
  • When do we offer baptisms?
  • What curriculum do we use?
  • Do we have small groups? When and where do they meet?
  • When and where do we meet weekly for service? Why?
  • What events have been on the calendar?
  • Do they have leader training and get togethers?

As you list out and take notes of what you have in place for your students and volunteers, begin to mark down these events with some sort of indicator of what is going well and what is going to need work. When I first got to my spot and made this list, I simply went through and marked:

  • Green – for things that seems to be running well
  • Yellow – for things that needed to be adjusted or restructured
  • Red- for missing things or things that we now we might cut

Another great tool for accessing the ministry programs would be the “Right, Wrong, Missing, Confused” assessment (I know I got this from some where, but I bet you can google it HA!) This is simple a 4 columned list of listing down the different areas of ministry and leadership roles in the appropriate category and is really helpful to really take of a look at your group.

Right – What are the things that you feel are going right in your ministry and it should remain. These things require little tweaks here and there but for the most part it is good to go.

Wrong – These are the things that the ministry has but they shouldn’t even be there. These are the things that make you think, “What were they thinking doing this?”

Missing – These are the things that are not there but they should be. You don’t have small groups? Put it in the “missing” section. Budget? Missing. Volunteers? Missing. It might be depressing but at least you will know what you need.

Confused – These are the programs and areas that you don’t really know why they are doing it. Maybe it’s Sunday school and they just do it because they always have done it. What makes you scratch your head and wonder the “why” behind the program.

It’s really easy but really informative about what you are walking into.