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.

1. It sets goals

A good mission statement sets the goals for your youth ministry. It defines the reason for your existence. Without one, you’ll run the risk of becoming a fun activity-focused ministry without any clear direction where you’re going.  Often in a mission statement you will put into words what God has shown you to be the way for your youth ministry. And never underestimate the power of Holy Ghost-inspired, cleverly formulated, and well communicated goals. It will inspire people (youth and volunteers), motivate them and will make them want to achieve ‘success’.

A mission statement will set goals for your youth ministry (photo: Gary Scott)

2. It helps you focus

Mission statements help you focus. I’m a big believer in the power of focus, because focused youth ministry will bring about results. The goals you formulate in your mission statement are the basis for any other strategic plans (or operational plan, or year plan, whatever you call it) you make. It’s the practical plan behind your main goals. Where will you direct you energy, time, money, and other resources? Having a good mission statement helps you bring focus in your plans, your activities.

3. It makes it possible to evaluate

Having goals means you can evaluate your actions and programs. Without goals, what will you evaluate them against? There’s no measure or standard of success. Mission statements help you set the goals that will be the basis of all your evaluations. Did you reach the goals (or come closer to realizing them) in your mission statement? If not, what do you need to do differently? If so, how can you raise the bar?

4. It creates clarity

A mission statement also brings clarity to all involved (provided you communicate it well). The church board, elders, parents, volunteers and youth will know what the youth ministry is about and what they can expect. If your mission statement is heavily outreach-oriented for instance, youth who becomes involved knows that and won’t be surprised about announcements of mission trips, outreach activities, etc. Parents will also know what to expect and you can refer back to the mission statement should any questions or complaints arise. In short: a good mission statement will create clarity so people know what they sign up for.

5. It helps decide what (not) to do

We had set up a website for our youth group, aimed at providing them with info about youth activities and to help them connect with each other. One of our youth leaders had the idea to ask some businesses aimed at young people for special deals and post these on the website, like an offer for driving lessons. It wasn’t a bad idea in itself, yet our leadership team said no. The reason? It didn’t fit with our mission statement. We would direct precious time and energy into something that may have been valuable to your youth in a general sense, but wasn’t contributing to our goals in any way. That’s what a mission statement will help you do: decide what to do and what to say no to.

If your youth ministry doesn’t have a mission statement yet, I’d advise you to get started on one. Develop one using as much input from others as you can: pastor, church board, parents, volunteers, youth itself, etc. Make it together so people will ‘own’ it. And if it’s done, keep communicating it ’till people beg you to stop. This whole process will take time, but I guarantee you you won’t regret it. Chances are, it will bring people together and give new energy to your youth ministry. Wanna know more? Check out this post on Creating a mission statement for your youth ministry.

Have you experienced benefits from having a mission statement? Share your experiences in the comments!

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