If you are leading your own ministry, naturally as the leader you have hope, dermas and aspirations for the students who have been entrusted into your care. We hear all of the time that youth ministries run by themselves, away from the “normal” congregation and pretty much the youth pastor is left to do his/her own thing on an island as long as the church van is clean when they are done using it. I have talked to many youth pastors who have their own vision for their ministry, which is amazing (it’s better than not having a vision of where you are going at all), but I feel one of the most important thing you can do as a youth worker who is charge of the student ministry is honor your senior pastor and his vision for the church.
I love the fact that many people have a vision for their ministry, I know I have one for mine, but I am shocked to hear so many youth workers who allow their vision for their ministry to stray from the overall vision of the senior pastor and church as a whole. Yes, having our own vision for our ministry is amazing but not at the expense of diverting from the vision and the direction of your senior leader. there are a bunch of different reasons why having two separate ideas of ministry could go wrong, but that is another article for later, what I want to talk about are some questions you can ask about your ministry so you can strategically work alongside the leadership of your church to streamline your vision into one that fits within whatever church you are serving at.
One of the most important things you can do for your ministry and senior pastor is make sure you know each others vision and know how you can streamline to make sure the church is not headed into a few different directions.
So here are some questions to ask yourself or your senior pastor:
Do you know the heart of your senior pastor for the students in the church? Whether you believe it or not, your senior pastor cares for the students in the church. If you work on staff, he hired you to take care of them. If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t need to hire anyone. Have you asked your pastor what his desire for the students of his church? This simple but revealing question allows you to understand what desires your senior pastor has for the church as whole. As someone on his staff, it’s your job to help carry out the desires and vision of the pastor. It’s amazing to me how many student pastors have not asked this simple question to get some insight of their leader. I know when I asked my senior pastor what his heart for the young people of the church is, I was blown away with how much he cared for their well being and had some good insight for direction on where I should go.
What is the vision statement of your church? What is the vision statement of your ministry? Does it match? These are simple but important question in which I think a lot of student pastors look over. Your church has a vision and it usually matches the senior pastors vision. There are so many student ministries that have vision statement, which is great, but there are many groups in which their vision is different from the church as a whole. It’s like the church is going one way and the student ministry is headed in another way. I think in order for us to be most effective in our churches, with our senior pastors, we need to make sure our vision statements are somewhat similar. We want our values to be the same.
The vision statement of our church is “To create fully devoted followers of Jesus in every home in our valley and beyond.”
The vision statement of our student ministry is “To create a fully devoted follower of Jesus on every school campus in the valley.”
There is no doubt where our heart lies when it comes to why we do the programs we do church wide and student ministry wide. They are in the same vein, they are headed in the same direction. I think this causes less friction as we continue to move forward and grow because it is in line with what our senior pastor wants and desires for his church as a whole.
Whether you mean to or not, when you are headed in another direction, it can come off as arrogant. It could give the feeling that you “know better” and your vision is “better” and yours not bought into what the church is doing. Having a cohesive vision statement and a talk with your senior pastor would be one of the best things you can do because it brings alignment from the top down.
What are the non-negotionables your senior pastor has for adults? Do you match? What are the main values your pastor has and do you match those values in how your run your program? It would be wise to know what are the things your senior pastor wants the adults he is directly responsible for so you can figure out how to implement the same thing within your student ministry.
For example, my senior pastor wants the following:
An engaging service where people far from God can come near to God.
A small group community so people can experience God through fellowship.
An outlet of service to serve God and his people in the community.
If those are the things he wants, those are the things we provide in our ministry for students. We want to make sure that when students graduate through our program and enter the church as an adult, there is no real change to what their values are. They have known, participated in, and owned the values from our senior pastor from the very moment they entered our ministry.
Find out what are the things your senior pastor desires for the adults and find a way to implement it in the student programs.
Does your senior pastor know how God is using your ministry? I don’t know if you know this or not, but its your responsibility to keep your senior pastor informed. I hear a lot of people complain, “Well my senior pastor doesn’t know what is really going on in our ministry. He must not care.” False. He cares. It is up to you to keep him and your staff informed with what God is doing. When we have meetings, make sure you tell stories about what God is doing in the lives of your students. In staff meetings, celebrate victory stories of students. Send an email once a month to your pastor to let them know what types of things you are doing to carry out the vision of the church and your ministry just so he can be in the know. Celebrate the awesome things that happened at camp. During announcements, tell a story of redemption from your ministry and tie it into whatever your doing. No one is going to be as excited about your ministry as you, so you have to find any and every opportunity to take initiative and tell stories of what God is doing.
It’s your job to keep your pastor informed and Im telling you, he won’t mind if you do.