Balancing Your Youth Ministry: Implementation

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This is the third month in a row I have talked about balance in ministry.  Now for the hard part–getting it done.  I have a confession to make here–I am a dreamer.  I seem to be really good at a couple of things.

1. Describing an initiative or event that would be really cool.
2. Telling someone else how to fix something that is broken.

The confession part is that sometimes I struggle with the implementation.

I am guessing I am not alone.  I have to keep in mind that every good idea eventually has to get traction and either be implemented or rejected. Now, if this is the first of the three articles I have written on “balance” that you have read, let me review.  The first two steps of ministry balance are “assessment” (figuring out where you are 8h relation to your goals and purpose) and “organization” (structure so that you can get where your vision and needs tell you to go).  So once you have the design and structure worked out, you have to get busy.

I have three lists to give you that might help.  For any idea or event, write down these four words: Dream. Plan. Implement. Evaluate. The dream is raw–you talk to others about your idea and confirm that it might be possible. You modify, polish and then you plan. What resources, both material and personnel need to be brought together to make it happen? What reservations, contracts or space considerations are there? Then the day or week of the event arrives.  You communicate constantly with whomever is helping.  You adust on the fly to whatever problems arise–you have thought about contingencies like weather problems or emergencies with your volunteers.  Finally you evaluate.  Be sure you take some time a week or so after the event to process what went right and what you need to do better next time. Many youth ministers give responsibility for the planning, implementation and evaluation of an event to a team of youth and youth leaders (some call this group a “lead team,” a term invented by Dr. Richard Ross).  Others enlist key adults. Either way, it has to be handled.  It has been helpful to me to make lists.

Another list is from my strategic leadership folder.  For a task or idea, one should:

  • Provide leadership for strategic planning and structures through which to implement the vision
  • Enlist, equip and empower adult volunteers to serve effectively in youth ministry
  • Provide competent administration in youth ministry activities, programs, leadership development and budgeting
  • Evaluate through the flow of programming (assess needs, select priorities, determine goals, Identify actions to reach the goals, schedule on calendar, collect feedback, involve people in every step

Whatever your “list” or implementation strategy, be sure to communicate it and to use it consistently.  If you have a mental checklist that is used all the time, you are less likely to forget a step in the process.

A caution on the implementation without the substance. One of my favorite books is Working the Angles by Eugene Peterson.1 The essence of the book is that the visible aspects of ministry are preaching, teaching and administration and that you can be busy doing them without much if any spiritual depth.  Busy-ness does not equal spiritual effectiveness. Make sure that your plans are weighed against the spiritual impact and integrity of doing the right things in the right way for the right reason.

1Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles (Grand Rapids, MI.: Erdmans), 1987.

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