These are 5 overall goals that I have set for my Student Ministry. As I pray for vision and direction to make plans and set schedules for the Student Ministry, these 5 Goals help me ensure that I am not just creating a ministry where we do goofy things, but that we have a distinct and well thought out plan and direction that is focused on following Christ.
To create a fun, honest, and welcoming environment in the Ministry
Students are going through a lot of changes in their life during the time they are in Student Ministry. This time in life can be quite challenging and stressful to navigate for students; personal changes, family dynamics, school, work, and so on. Creating an environment in the Student Ministry that is a place where they can have fun, be honest, and feel welcomed just as they are is very important to the success of the ministry.
We as the church cannot compete with the world when it comes to what we can produce by way of entertainment, decor, etc. The world simply has more money to dispose of for those kinds of things than the church does. But the entertainment value and decor is rarely the draw for students. Rather, what draws them into the ministry is knowing that they can come and be honest, talk with other students and adults who care about them and will listen to them, feel welcomed just as they are, and have fun as they fellowship with peers. When students are a part of a Student Ministry that creates that type of environment, they will want to be a part of it, and will want to invite their friends as well.
To challenge individuals to become well-rounded Followers of Christ
We all have certain strengths and talents, or gifts, which God has given us. However, in the Bible we are commanded to live for God in all aspects of our life, not just in those areas where we are strong. That means, for example, that if I’m not strong in the area of hospitality, then I need to work on becoming stronger in that area, because that area is important to God same as every other area.
In ministry I need to teach about all the aspects of living for God, not just the ones I’m strong in or about the ones that those listening to me are strong in. I need to be willing to consistently challenge those I speak to in my ministry to grow and deepen their faith. We are to be well-rounded as we follow Christ, living for him in every area of our life…including those we are not naturally strong in.
To prepare students to take hold of and own their faith
There comes a point in every student’s life when they have to move from “my parent’s belief” or “my youth pastor’s belief” to “my belief”. To do that, the student must take hold of that faith for themselves, thus owning it and making it their own. As a youth pastor I need to help them make that step, which is essential if they are going to stay in the church when they graduate high school and move out on their own.
Students need to be challenged to think for themselves as well as given the necessary tools to build their own faith. A students faith will often begin based on what they are told by their parents/pastors/friend/etc, but at some point the student must own their faith for themselves to make it real to them. I need to help students know how to figure out what they believe for themselves.
To be a help to parents as they strive to raise Godly children
Families are very important. God has given the students that I work with to their parents, not to me. I as the youth pastor am not charged to raise them, the parents are. So, if I am to do youth ministry in a biblical way, I must work closely with the parents whenever possible, helping them as they raise their kids.
Being a help to parents also means that I do not go against their wishes. Some parents are more strict than others or have specific rules that I might not have…or might not even agree with. But when it comes to their child, that is their right because God gave them their children. So I must make sure that what I do in the ministry does not cause friction between the ministry and the parents.
I know that not all parents of the students in the Student Ministry will be believers. This goal might not fully apply to those parents because they are not seeking to raise Godly children. However, it does still apply with regards to making sure I do not go against their wishes.
Equip and allow others to be involved in the ministry
This goal is based on a simple truth: God has given everyone gifts, passions, and abilities to be used in ministry in some way. The Adult Leaders in the ministry, the Students of the ministry, and even the Parents who allow their students to be a part of the ministry. All of them have something to offer to the ministry. As a Pastor, I need to make sure that I am equipping others and allowing them to be involved in the work of the ministry.
Allow students to be involved in leadership roles and/or use their talents in the ministry to serve others. Figure out what the gifts/talents and passions of the Adult Leaders are, and encourage them to use those in the ministry. And as much as possible, allow parents to be involved in the ministry. Some simple ways to allow Parents who are not Adult Leaders to be involved are; chaperon a trip/event, be on a Student Ministry prayer team, and even allow them to share ideas for lessons with me. Finding ways to allow parents to be involved could take some extra work, but I need to make sure that I am open to allowing parents to be involved, because these students are their children.
These 5 Goals for Student Ministry work in conjunction with my 5 Key Verses for Student Ministry