Recently when sharing about his ministry a youth pastor said “you attract people like youself.” Though I agree with his statement the fact is a ministry will never reach full potential if you stop there. This pastor had a youth ministry that had decreased to a small number and I was asking questions to evaluate the ministry in an area that had good opportunity for growth. If I were consulted to mentor this youth pastor there are 7 principles I would focus on to help him grow a dynamic youth ministry. Today I want to talk about one that is important in any type of ministry.
Connecting is critical to growing a dynamic ministry. If you settle for a ministry that only reflects your personality and gifts it will always lack growth and be hindered from reaching it’s potential. A basic leadership principle I learned from John Maxwell is to bring people around that are different from you and have gifts you lack. How can you do that in a youth ministry? Here are few things I did to connect when pioneering 4 different student ministries from scratch…
My most challenging student ministry was the one I started at a juvenile delinquent home. No Christian group had ever been successful and I was told it was impossible. Most of the kids were in secure lock up for felony charges but the staff agreed to let me have one shot at a gathering with them. What did I have in common with these kids? Absolutely nothing! Before the event I found out their main source of activity and enjoyment was ping pong. I had never even played ping pong but I asked the most influential guy in the room if he would teach me. We connected through ping pong. After that I began to spend about 20 hours a week at juvi until I recruited a replacement. Unfortunately I never did get too good at ping pong.
A campus ministry sent me to a liberal college to help start a ministry that was struggling with recruiting and evangelism. Here are a few things I did to help me connect with students…I dressed like students dress, I attended student activities, I went to places students go, I asked one of the most influential guys on campus to teach me how to ride a skateboard, I asked students lots of quetions about themselves to help me find their passion and points of interest and then zeroed in on that, etc. My desire was to become all things to all men in order to reach some.
The principle I have been taught is that connecting is required for ministry growth. I did many things that were out of my comfort zone. By nature I was a person who was not into sports, outside activity, music or video games. I am the person at the beach who will not even go into the water but sit in a lawn chair and read a book. Today you might be challenged to see this because I will do anything to connect with my family, friends and other people I come in contact with.
Read a facebook post this week from a youth pastor I worked with at Skyline Church in San Diego who has built an incredible youth ministry at Saddleback Church. Kurt Johnston posted: “New Rule: Every youth pastor should be required to visit two dynamic youth ministries a year to learn what they are doing.”
What are you doing to grow your ministry?
For more info on this topic read previous post “How To Build a Ministry that will Impact Youth Culture” and see “Called to Youth Ministry” which you can click on at my blogroll.