The second Youth Ministry at Half Time article can be read here.
If you’re involved in student ministry in any way, this is the time of year where you begin a new semester before the crazy summer schedule kicks in. For me, it is always the time of year where I know I need to take a deep breath, look at how last year ended, and look ahead to what needs to be changed. This is easier said than done – and most of us keep doing what we have done because it makes sense to us. Though we may have good intentions, there is a big question worth asking: Is what we are doing still effective in our ministry? Hopefully we are all preaching the gospel and making disciples; however, we must ask ourselves if the way we are doing this is working. I like to think of this time of year as a half time in a football game; it’s time to be humble and ask the tough questions of what to fix and what to ditch. There are three things I have found helping for making the most of “half time.”
1) Devote a day or two to looking at the overall direction of the ministry.
It is always difficult to step away from the busy demands of ministry to look at the bigger picture of how we are doing ministry. It might even feel like we are not working or that we will get behind on the work we are doing each day. The truth is: Our people need us to be humble enough to take a time out – to get out of the office, to go to a place where we can think about the overall vision and health of the ministry.
My goal is to do this at least four times a year, making sure I am asking myself the difficult questions for the good of the ministry, my leaders, and my students. Whether it is renting a cabin in the woods, or simply staying in a nearby hotel, it is especially helpful to get away to pray and think about how everything is going.
2) Spend some time in the Scriptures making sure we are still in line with God’s will.
The pressures of ministry will always be there no matter what season we are in. However, every now and then we need to take a step back to consider how much of our direction is coming from others’ opinions and demands. We want our visions, convictions, and plans to come from the Lord; however, there is still room to look at how we are conveying them to our teenagers, as there is often space for improvement. Part of being good missionaries is looking around to make sure the message is getting through, and part of being faithful to the message is giving the effort and time for self-evaluation.
3) Ask key students and parents about how the ministry is going.
Do not be afraid to ask people what’s really going on and what they really see. It’s not that we need to change our entire philosophy of ministry based on what others say, but it can be really beneficial to get a more objective view on our work. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see the positives and the negatives of a ministry. It can be difficult to refrain from taking this feedback personally, but we as leaders need to lead in the vision of always wanting to make improvements for the glory of God and the good of the ministry. Aren’t the people worth it?
Each time we take an honest look at our ministries, we are also taking an honest look at ourselves. It can be tough, but it is certainly worth it. If we can be humble enough to do this on a regular basis, our ministries will not only be faithful but healthy, which is what we all want.