Reviewing the past year of my youth ministry

Every year each ministry in our church writes an overview of the past year. A couple of us (including myself) also give an oral report at our annual meeting. Here’s a brief (believe it or not) excerpt from my written annual report about where the youth ministry has come this past year.

A Focused Vision

This year our philosophy of ministry was greatly simplified. No more mission statement, purpose statement, vision statements, core values, strategies, etc. It was confusing for most people and very difficult to communicate. It left the vision for the ministry’s forward spiritual movement very fuzzy and unfocused for students, adult leaders and even me!

Now all those statements are boiled down together. The purpose is the mission, which is also the vision, which is also our core values and strategy all wrapped up into one, easy-to-remember vision: “Deep and Wide Youth Ministry.” We want to take teenagers deep into the Word so they become spiritually passionate believers who take the gospel wide to the lost people around them.

Beginning to Implement the Vision

The implementation of Deep & Wide is starting to work itself out in a variety of ways.

  • Sr. High C3 renamed to Impact: “We come to be spiritually impacted so we can go out there and make a spiritual impact.”
  • At Impact, we’re going through 30 core questions of Christianity, essentially summarizing 30 key areas of systematic theology.
  • C-Groups continued to be a place where high school students can build relationships with other believers in a small group setting and be challenged to go deep in the Word.
  • All teenagers were trained to share their faith using Pray, Pursue, Persuade: pray for 5 unsaved friends, pursue a relationship with them where you bring God up in conversation, and lovingly persuade them into a relationship with Christ.
  • All teenagers also were taken through the G.O.S.P.E.L. Journey, where we traced the Lord’s plan of salvation through the entire Bible.
  • Jr. High went through an in-depth study of the entire New Testament in The Journey small groups. This year they will go through the entire Old Testament.
  • The Belize missions trip was geared to take kids deep into the Word by spending an hour alone in the Lord every morning, teaching times, and through debriefing/reflection together on what God was doing through us. They were also challenged to go wide with the gospel as we shared our faith with adults, children and teenagers alike. Many came to faith in Christ as a result!
  • M.U.U.U.C.E. served as a good kick-start for getting into the Word this school year and introducing new 7th graders to each other as they got ready to go through the New Testament together in The Journey.
  • Wake ‘n Ski did not meet its “go wide” focus. It is being evaluated for next year.
  • 30 Hour Famine was organized and let by high school student, Sara Wadi. She did an outstanding job of coordinating the event to raise funds for providing food, education, clothing, medical attention, and the gospel message to starving children in other countries. The money we raised literally “went wide.”
  • Since our vision for Deep & Wide Youth Ministry was still taking shape, our winter ski trip to Big Sky in Montana did not really fall into it any specific way. That will obviously have to be evaluated if we do the ski trip again.
  • M.O.V.E. 2008 was a great opportunity to serve the community of Minneapolis by cleaning a facility that provides furniture to individuals and families entering society (immigrants, ex-convicts, etc.). We also assembled a lot of donated furniture for them, as the hands and feet of Jesus.

As we launch into the upcoming year, we intend to make Deep & Wide much more pointed and integrated. The transition began last year and it will continue throughout next year, too, as we evaluate everything and seek the Lord’s direction for our ministry. Hopefully by 2010 Deep & Wide will be be the driving force behind everything that happens in the youth ministry. The life-change and growth we’ve experienced so far is just the tip of the iceberg of how God wants to bless His work here.

Where the Vision is Going

Our goal is to become more Christlike, as scripture commands (Rom. 8:29; 12:2; etc.). This does not mean that we only strive to become more perfect with less sin, as many Christians think. It actually means that our heart for lost people must continually grow because, ultimately, that’s the very reason why Christ came to earth in the first place – out of a love and burden for lost people. To become more like Christ means that our hearts share His desire to see sinners come to faith in Him. This evangelism aspect of discipleship should be a part of the spiritual journey every believer takes. We want to see teenagers become more Christlike, in both spiritual maturity (Luke 2:52) and in a heart for lost people (Matthew 28:18).

We believe that evangelism and discipleship are not intended to be separate. Traditionally, small groups and Bible studies are seen as discipleship opportunities and evangelism is usually reduced to a special event or a project where students outsource the gospel message to someone on a stage. Matthew 28 says to “Go and make disciples.” Evangelism is a vital part of discipleship and personal spiritual growth.

  • This next year I will intentionally to share the gospel clearly at every youth meeting so our kids hear it, know it and share it. And also for any unbelievers who might be present because nothing else we talk about in youth group means a thing if someone present doesn’t know Christ.
  • This next year I will take teenagers deep into the Word by teaching theology and pushing them to be obedient to the application of the Word to their lives as they go wide with the gospel message. That means internalizing these principles myself first and modeling it for them.

Posted on September 18, 2008

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