[This is the sixth post in a series on Creating a Youth Ministry from Scratch]
A huge priority for a new ministry is to create a mission and a vision. That means putting into writing where you are right now and where you want to go in the near future. However, I don’t recommend working on this for the first year or so. That’s because you need time to experiment a bit first and get to know the context well enough.
A mission and a vision (and the strategy that follows from both) are highly contextual. You can’t just copy-paste these form another church or ministry. They have to fir your unique situation. And to get a solid grasp on your context, you need some time.
When I started volunteering with Youth for Christ in their Campus Life program for instance, I had some basic expectations of the students I’d be working with. I’ve been doing youth ministry in various context and even various countries for over 17 years, so I know in general what to expect. What I didn’t know however, were the students and their specific situations. And you need those to accurately analyze your context and thus come up with a mission and vision.
The neighborhood I live in for instance is classic suburbia: predominantly white, affluent, most women only work part time or don’t work at all, most kids come from a two-parent home, kids play sports at competitive levels, and the academic expectancies are high. My son’s elementary school has zero kids that need ‘food backpacks’ on the weekends.
The students I work with are completely different (I volunteer in another town). Broken families, disadvantaged circumstances, various ethnic backgrounds, poverty, violence, drugs—these kids see it all. How would a youth ministry in my town vary from the one I’m working in? Big time. They would have to be completely different, because the context is completely different.
Before you start working on a mission and vision, make sure you fully understand your context. This is especially important if you are new to the area (like I was) and to the subculture (for instance urban vs suburban or even rural).
If you want to learn more about creating a mission and vision (and a strategic plan!) for your youth ministry, check out our course we offer on this topic!
Does your youth ministry have a mission and vision yet? Are they a good fit with your unique context?