Monday, June 28, 2010

What to say to a new youth pastor (part 7)

Establishing our core values – our why – allows us to focus on what really matters.  You can't accomplish much without focus.  The difference between a light bulb and a laser is focus. 

Your why helps you define your “win.”  Your team must understand what a win looks like, or they won’t know what we’re after.  In American Football, we celebrate first downs, but they don’t win a game… touchdowns do.  And even then, just getting a touchdown doesn’t mean you win the game.  We need to spell out for our people what it means to have a win in our ministries.

In order to do this, you need to put a face on the vision.  Let me illustrate: When we were pastoring university students in Texas there was a young man that I had invested in a relationship with.  I had earned the right to tell him about Jesus, and he committed his life to Christ.

A little while later I was talking with this young man during a college retreat.  As we were walking he put his arm around me and said, “Jon, I want to thank you.”

I asked, “Why?”

He said, “Since I’ve given my life to Christ, my life has been changed.  I haven’t smoked a joint in a whole month!”  And when I cast the vision to our team and our church, I told this story (with his permission).  I helped them see what a win looked like in our ministry: a lost person coming to Christ and growing in his/her relationship with God and with others.

What to say to a new youth pastor (part 6)

Discovering your why will make life and ministry much easier.  It will give life to your vision, mission and strategy.  And it will enable you to prioritize.

In most churches, it’s not a lack of vision that’s the problem.  It’s a lack of resources (people, money and stuff).  And because of this lack of resources, it’s imperative that we learn to prioritize.  Having clearly defined core values will enable us to say no to the wrong things in order to save resources for the right things.  These “wrong things” may not be wrong for another organization; but they are wrong for us.  Not every good thing is a God thing.  It’s important to remember that God hasn’t called us to do everything… He’s called us to do our thing.

What to say to a new youth pastor (part 5)

The next thing I would say is the importance of establishing “why.”  So many times we focus on the “what” (vision) or the “how” (strategy).  But these are lifeless without the why.

The why can be summed up in our core values.  The interesting thing is that most churches have basically the same vision statement.  It goes something like this… “reaching lost people, investing in lives and making disciples.”

The thing that makes each church unique is its core values. (For a more in-depth understanding of this principle, check out Church Unique)  When we understand the why for our youth ministry, we can begin to define who God has called us to be.  A better term for this is discovering our DNA.