Today is August 1st, and I find myself in a familar place, planning for the 2014-2015 Student Ministry Season. But while much of today is old hat, I choose to going into each year as though I was stating over.
I like beginnings. Even more, I like new beginnings. And for me, September is like a new beginning; a chance to start over, clean slate, endless possibliities. As I think about the start of the fall ministry season, I get excited about all that will be new; new students, new teaching series, new games, new leadership, new events, and new opportunities to watch God work in the life the students.
But this year, starting over means, starting over.
This fall our student ministry will launch as a revived ministry. Since January 2014, our church has been working to rebuild our small student ministry. We are a two year old church plant with just a handful of of families and students. When the church launched, we saw a couple of weeks of positive response, but while we tried to run a student ministry, we lasked the infrastructure that kept the ministry needed such as; committed leadership, small group connections, and consistant gathering times. Within a few months, everything fell apart. We started our rebuild with just 6 students. We ended in July with 10. That might not sound like a lot, but we're not just counting the number of noses in a room, we're considering the commitment and spiritual growth. they may not know, but these first 10 students will become our core group come the fall.
But whether you are starting from scratch or just starting back up, I think there are some things that are practical for both.
It doesn't matter whether your ministry is 10 years old or 10 days old, you need to be on your knees for what's about to happen. As the leader of your group, it's easy to look at the program and connect it with your ability to make things happen. But the truth is, w're just the frontman, God is the one making thing happen. So pray that God would involve Himself in all aspects of the student ministry. Pray for His wisdom and direction when you are planning and preparing the calendar. Ask for a sensitivity to the spiritual needs of your students when creating teaching series. Pray for the leaders, both adult and students, who will come along side of you to engage your student body. And pray for the parents who will be sending students to you and the parents who will step up and support that ministry as volunteers. Lastly, pray for protection over your ministry. More and more, we're hearing about the moral failure of youth workers in the news. This is a devestating issue that is destroying lives. We must be on our knees for ourselves and our fellow youth workers,
2. Be Prepared
Success doesn't always just happen. It takes planning and hardwork. As a youth worker, your not just getting together with a bunch of students to hang out and have fun. You have been given a divine call to make disciples. Don't just wing it. Don't just think you're going to walk in and pull an amazing night of ministry out of your back pocket. Even the most experienced, most gifted, most talented youth workers take time to propely plan and prepare for their ministry. "Oh, but I want to make sure the Spirit has the freedom to come and do His thing." Okay, I hear you. I get that. And He will. But imagine how much more powerful His interaction will be when you have dedicated your time to preparing for His arrival. Whether you're organizing the game, putting together the announcements, writing the small group material, or crafting your weekend message, do it to the best of your abilities, prepare.
3. Plan Ahead for YOU
It's super easy to jump into the new year and forget that you need to take some time to keep you safe, healthy, and spiritually growing. If you don't plan ahead and set aside time to care for you, you won't. Then you'll be asking yourself why you're feeling tired and worn down when it's only November. Plan ahead to take time to you. Rest. Reconnect. Retool. And Return ready to love on your students. For years I have relied on 2 places to help me get through the minsitry year. 1. The National Youth Workers Convention, sponsored by Youth Specialties. And 2. The Simply Youth Ministry Conference, sponsored by Simply Youth Ministry/Group. These 2 events are created and designed to give youth workers a break from their ministry, training for what they do, and opportunity to worship and reconnect with God. I would greatly encourage you to look into one or both of these great events. NWYC is held in late fall, usually in 2 locations. SYMC is held in late winter. You will find links to both of the ministries on the home page of StudentMinistryToday.com.
(PS - I will be at NYWC in Atlanta, in November.)
See you next week!