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Keeping the vision in sight, literally

Not much is worse than loosing sight of the vision for ministry. Ministry easily becomes wrapped up in the repetitive administrative tasks and slowly warps from a God-given dream to a struggle to maintain mediocrity. I want to ensure that I never lose sight of the vision God’s placed in the hearts of myself and my youth group volunteers, so I took the flip-chart pages that contain our vision brainstorming from two weeks ago and posted them on the wall above my desk. Now our vision is literally right in front of my face. Whenever I’m sitting at my desk, the vision is right there in front of me. It’ll serve as a constant reminder of what we’re here for and where we’re going.

My youth group's vision

I know you can’t read the list from my cell phone’s picture, so here’s what it says:

IMAGINE IF…

  • The kids can’t wait to get to school and invite their friends.
  • Kids stood out at school, not conforming.
  • Students were a vital/visible part of the church.
  • Every youth parent was involved in youth ministry.
  • Every student in Alexandria attended youth group either here or elsewhere.
  • All cliques and barriers were broken down and everyone felt welcomed.
  • Some child was touched strongly enough by the Lord that they made a world-wide difference.
  • Every at-risk student in the community was influenced by our program.
  • Every kid at the H.S. knew that they are a precious child of God.
  • Every student was following Christ instead of rules.
  • Every student knew the absolute truths.
  • Every person in our community was going to heaven.
  • Our youth program could impact the college.
  • Every kid in Alexandria understood the roll of sex in their lives.
  • We could equip parents with knowledge of God.
  • There was a mentor for every kid in town.
  • The youth group was considered the best thing in town.
  • Our youth program impacted other churches in Alexandria.
  • Denominational differences didn’t matter.
  • If church was the students’ #1 priority.
  • We could remember every kid’s name every time.
  • The youth and adults were kind to one another.
  • Every student had one good friend to help them make the right choices.
  • Every student would take ownership of their faith.
  • Every student was using the Internet and technology for good Godly purposes.
  • Communication wasn’t an issue.
  • Students would take responsibility for their own actions.
  • Everyone could just be real.
  • We as a team totally sought God’s will and had none of our own agendas and motives.
  • We all had the same heart as God.
  • If ego and pride was removed from the equation.
  • We didn’t let the world water-down our values.
  • We did a service project that made news and left a huge positive impact.
  • Everyone was ready for the second coming.
  • Every student in our community that has a crisis has someone to call.
  • We knew what every student was thinking.
  • We didn’t care as much about ourselves.
  • In every crisis, the students’ first instinct would be to turn to God in prayer.
  • We all would pray without ceasing.
  • Every student had a burden for lost souls.
  • Every student viewed their school as a mission field.
  • The kids knew how to repent for their own screw-ups.
  • If Christianity would spread through our kids.
  • Students would stand up for their faith and would share/explain it to their friends.
  • All of us knew the real consequences for our actions.
  • Students were passionate to worship God both publicly and privately.
  • Teachers could use their knowledge of what they know of God in their school teachings.
  • Our actions were congruent with what our hearts are.
  • All the students in our youth group were unified together.
  • If youth group could be “family.”
  • The Sr. High students were all intentional positive roll-models for the Jr. High.
  • Every graduating senior was equipped to be a spiritual leader on their college campus.
  • The church took an inter-generational approach to ministry.
  • Bible teaching was relevant and appealing.
  • Church services were lead by students.
  • Students took ownership over their church and had the freedom to fail and adults ensured that they were successful.
  • Everything was spirit-led.
  • Students knew their gifts and were confident to use them for God.
  • Students’ spiritual maturity would set an example for adults.
  • Our students would change culture.
  • The youth group was serious about developing a relationship with God.
  • Everyone could speak with boldness and had opportunities to practice it.
  • Every student was trained to share their faith.
  • Every student was a great storyteller of the gospel.
  • All the adults would be willing to be authentic and transparent.
  • The church became a community that loved on teenagers.
  • Church was a place that felt safe for everyone.
  • The church was known for what we stand for rather than what we stand against.
  • We always did ministry out of imagination instead of doing it by memory.
  • We weren’t afraid to fail.
  • We weren’t afraid of other people’s opinions of us.
  • Every student in Alexandria had repeated opportunities to hear and respond to the gospel.
  • Fund-raising was unnecessary.
  • Service projects were for the purpose of service instead of fund-raising.
  • Our involvement with youth was contagious to other adults around us.
  • There was a ministry that met every student’s needs.
  • We were recruiting kids for various ministries.
  • Kids and adults would just do things out of the goodness of their hearts instead of for something in return.
  • Our youth group was known for what it is rather than what it does.
  • Every student felt comfortable showing appropriate physical affection with each other.
  • Student knew their Bibles.
  • Every student could discuss theology.
  • Students brought their Bibles and used them in church.
  • Students could recite passages of scripture by memory.
  • A forum was created where students have a place to debate issues and problems.
  • Students knew how to appropriately resolve conflict.
  • God was real and living in every student’s life and it was evidenced through their actions.
  • Prayer was as natural as breathing and became a priority in students’ life.
  • Adults first practiced everything on our own lives before we taught it to kids.
  • Youth group became obsolete because they’d be so on fire and out in the community that they wouldn’t need us.
  • We worked ourselves into obsolesces.

Posted on May 7, 2007

  • good list. Its always a good idea to have a reminder (what better way than “wallpapering” your office with it. :)

  • Tim

    Yeah, and we made the wallpaper ourselves! It’s cheaper that way. ;)

    I would love for the wallpaper in our youth room to be pictures of everyone from different youth group events and activities throughout the years. Just plaster the walls with ’em! All that ink won’t be cheap, though.

  • Hey Tim,

    What do you think about parents of teens that are in your youth ministry being volunteers? I have been asking myself if I want to have them in there or not. I was just wanting to see what you think.

    Dustin

  • Tim

    @ Dustin: If parents want to be involved in the youth group, I typically first encourage them to talk with their teenager(s) about it. If the kids are honestly cool with it, then I invite the parents to be a part of the ministry, but I’m careful not to place them in a small group that their kids are in or anything like that.

  • G R E A T !! Some more good creative thinking… Leaders too often lose ‘sight’ of their goals.. So you’re keeping it in view !! Life too easily discourages.. and that is the enemy’s first tool !
    We have to “Keep ourselves encouraged in the Lord !”
    And it works !!
    God bless !!
    G’p’s

  • Is this a list that you created with your students?

  • Thanks Tim.

  • Tim

    @ Cory: There was a student leader present who gave input, but it was mostly adult volunteers. We wanted to have more students there, but unfortunately many couldn’t come due to scheduling issues. We did this on a weekend “dreaming/vision casting” retreat. I may do some of these exercises again more locally with students, though. Their input and ownership over this is critical.

    @ Dustin: No problem, man.

  • tom

    Hey Tim,
    First week and brand new on the full time scene. I love the idea of brainstorming /retreats, but when do you plan them and how often and what all kinds of things do you normally do at them. I have alot of parents in my volunteer base, but they were here when I got here and man are they busy. I almost feel bad when I schedule another date for them. tom

  • Tim

    Hey Tom! Welcome to full-time youth ministry! A little different than part-time or volunteer-time, huh?

    Start by generating a lot of excitement for the youth ministry just by sharing your own heart and passion for it. Communicate that each of them is important, that you’re a team working together and that if the youth ministry is going to be successful, it needs to start with you guys working together. Talk a lot about a dream, a vision, and a direction for where God wants to take the ministry. Don’t feel bad about scheduling a retreat. In fact, I would come in with the presumption that a retreat is going to happen for building unity and dreaming a vision. Just having a vision meeting is fine for task-oriented groups, but an agenda does little for building friendships. Take the plunge, do the retreat. People make time for their priorities. Help them make ministry a higher priority than watching American Idol. If you don’t have everyone on the retreat with you, that’s okay. Work with those you have and take good notes to pass on to those who couldn’t make it. If it helps, encourage parents to bring their little kids with them. Remove as many obstacles as possible that might prevent them from attending (i.e. make sure everyone goes for free).

    Other ideas might come to mind too, but those are my “off the top of my head” thoughts.

  • Tim, you mentioned that you would like to plaster the wall with pix of youth from events. This year we started running pix from the year’s events through a slide show on a screen while we played some high energy music during the beginning of our gatherings. It is cool to see the kids watch for themselves, it gives them a place to focus and not feel out of place, and it gives our leaders a chance to say “Hey, that’s a great picture of you! What were you doing?”
    And it saves on ink costs!

  • Tim

    Dave, that’s a great idea! Personally, I’d like to make the pictures more permanent, something that’s always present in the room and just adds to the whole atmosphere. I’d like to literally surround kids with the good times we’ve had together. But until then, I’m gonna use your idea. I know when I post youth group pictures on Facebook most of them get lots of comments, both by the people who attended and out of curiosity by those who didn’t.

  • When I first arrived at my current church, the youth room was covered in posters of contemporary Christian musicians. I’m personally not a big fan of CCM, but I felt that there were better ways to really make the room “ours.” The way I’ve gone about doing this is buying relatively inexpensive picture frames at Wal-Mart and taking advantage of offers from Shutterfly for free prints. Little by little, our room decor has changed from posters to memories of the time that we’ve spent together as a youth group.

  • Tim

    Aww man, I see those CCM posters in youth rooms and I’m like, “Who are we trying to draw attention to here?” I’m with ya, Cory. Sometimes I feel that we worship the artists more than the One their lyrics are supposed to point us to.

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