The lie about the makeability of youth ministry


I’m a control freak, I admit it. I’m a structured and organized person who tends to plan (way) ahead and I’m big on analyzing processes using the theory of action and reaction and cause and consequences. The often-heard saying ‘stupidity is doing the same things but expecting different results’ is one I wholeheartedly agree with.

Yet I know there are limits to what I can control, especially in youth ministry. I know from experience that no matter how much I want it to be so, youth ministry isn’t makeable. It frustrates me at times, it makes me feel powerless and completely out of control, but there’s nothing I can do about it. The makeability of youth ministry is a lie.

Now, I’m not even sure if this is a correct English word. I’ve sort of translated this literally from the Dutch expression, but it conveys exactly what I want to say. Makeable, makeability, they refer to the thought that we have control over something, that we can shape it and make it exactly how we want it to be. But there’s no makeability in youth ministry, there are no guaranteed ‘results’. Youth ministry isn’t mass product, manufactured in large quantities. It’s a uniquely crafted work of art, individually shaped for each specific youth ministry. [Read more…]

Making an operational year plan for your youth ministry


So, you’ve created a mission and a vision statement and you’ve translated this into a strategic plan. Now what? Now you make an operational plan, also known as a year plan. It’s the concrete plan of what you want to do in the upcoming year or season.

An example of an operational plan

Let’s say your mission is this:

“Making students into devoted disciples of Jesus”

You’ve made a vision statement in which you describe your dream of making at least 50% of your young people into devoted followers of Jesus, meaning that they attend church, read their Bible by themselves, pray daily and show in their daily life that they are becoming more and more like Jesus by bearing fruit both in character and in evangelism. [Read more…]

Vision casting for your youth ministry

look to the future

Your youth ministry needs a mission and a vision. Most of you will nod right now, but a lot of people have trouble to see the difference between a vision and a mission or fail to see how these two relate to each other. It’s no use developing a mission or a vision for your youth ministry if you don’t understand what it’s for. Let’s see if we can shed some light in this darkness.


Here’s a quick overview of the different elements of vision casting and planning your youth ministry:

Mission: defines purpose, 10 years

Vision: defines future, 5 years

Strategy: defines plans, 2-3 years

Operational plan: defines actions, 1 year

Now let’s discuss each of these elements separately.

[Read more…]

How to make a strategic plan for your youth ministry part 2

A clear strategy will help you determine where to go and how to get there.

In yesterday’s post we discussed the need for a strategic plan for your youth ministry and we got deeper into the first two steps ok making one: gathering info and analyzing this info. Today we’ll discuss the next steps.

Step 4: Choose priorities

Once you’ve gathered and analyzed all the info, you’ll need to choose priorities. Chances are, these will have become self-evident in the analytic phase. If not, look at your mission statement and your vision statement and determine what needs to be done next to come closer to achieving that main goal. Let’s say your goal is to reach students with the gospel. You know the most effective way is for their Christian friends and classmates to share the gospel. But the students in your youth ministry aren’t actively sharing their faith, even though most of them have made a decision for Christ. That means your priority should be to get your students to the point where they will share their faith. Now you have your priority. [Read more…]

How to make a strategic plan for your youth ministry part 1


I’m a big believer in goals. There are several reasons for this: without goals you can’t set priorities, you can’t plan effectively, it will be hard to allocate resources, you can’t evaluate and you’ll have a hard time getting people fired up for your youth ministry. So in any youth ministry, goals are key to getting things done. On the highest levels, these goals should be put into a mission statement and a vision statement. Then every two or three years or so, you’ll need a plan that distills lower level goals for your youth ministry and broadly describes how to achieve them: a strategic plan for your youth ministry. [Read more…]

Applying the 80/20 rule to youth ministry

The number of baptisms can be a paramter to define sucess in youth ministry, but there are many non-measurable parameters as well

This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry. In an earlier post I discussed the 80/20 rule and how this rule can help you set priorities in your youth ministry. Today I want to delve a little bit deeper into how this rule can be applied in youth ministry. But first, let’s recap what the 80/20 rule is about.

Shortly put, the 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto principle) states that there is often a 80/20 connection between input and output, between efforts and results. In short, in many cases 80% of the results come from only 20% of the efforts. But it works the other way around as well, 80% of the problems you face in youth ministry come from only 20% of the students/parents/church members.

Now let’s see how we can apply to 80/20 rule to your youth ministry by asking a whole bunch of questions. I’d advise you to take some time to work these through, you’ll be amazed at the insights you’ll gain.

1. Identify biggest results

What does ‘success’ look like in your youth ministry? In other words: what’s the 80% of results you want to strive for? You can describe success in youth ministry in different measurable parameters, for instance:

  • Number of baptisms amongst youth
  • Attendance in youth services
  • Number of students involved in small groups

But there are also many indicators of ‘success’ in youth ministry that aren’t so easy to measure, like spiritual growth, a good relationship with each student, growth in unity, etc. However you define success in your youth ministry, make sure you do somehow define it. Otherwise you’ll never know how you’re doing.

The number of baptisms can be a way to define sucess in youth ministry, but there are many non-measurable parameters as well

[Read more…]

Time management in youth ministry: setting priorities

time management matrix

This post is part of the Time management in youth ministry series. In youth ministry, there’s always more to do than we have time for. If your to do list is anything like mine, it can become quite a challenge to determine what gets priority and what will have to wait. I use very two effective ways to determine my priorities that I’d like to share with you. In another post, I describe the INO system, which is a third way of determining priorities.

In youth ministry it’s essential to set the right priorities. We can’t do it all.

[Read more…]

Why your youth ministry needs a mission statement


Does your youth ministry or youth group have a mission statement? By mission statement I mean a short (two sentences max) statement of what your youth ministry is about, what the reason for its existence is. If you have a mission statement, is it still current and does everybody who’s involved know it? I believe a good, current, well-communicated mission statement is essential to each youth ministry. Here’s 5 reasons why. [Read more…]