3 Phrases To Help You Craft Purpose In Ministry

Tim Balow
March 10th, 2020

I love pithy phrases. I post about them on social media. I tattoo them on myself. I love good phrases that communicate well. Which is why, when I come across good phrases, they stick to me.

Youth ministry in a congregational setting has so many crucial components that work together to set up a dynamic, student community that is centered on the transformative work of Jesus Christ. One of the biggest challenges in any environment is finding purpose you can talk about in real conversation. Statements don’t just talk about themselves, so what’s sticky but simultaneously theological informed in youth ministry?

These are NOT the end all’s with purpose phrases. Regardless, hopefully they get your mind thinking about reframing purposes and places for ministry in your context.

I’d like to leverage three very simple phrases to characterize purposes of an exceptional youth ministry.

A Wanted Community

One of the most basic transformative elements of any student community centers on authentic belonging. A “wanted community” is one where students want to be there, want their friends to be a part of it, and feel wanted themselves. This means we are authentically communicating God’s Word into their world so that they understand that deep down, God wants them. This means providing bridges to what this new life in Jesus looks like through dynamic events/trips, mentoring, and weekly community experiences.

This is probably the phrase that requires the most explaining, but this could be a powerful phrase to communicate understanding and reflection among adult volunteers. One of the primary purposes of community is the principle that the community wants that person to belong. Even in the opposite situation, community should be a place where students want to be there. The community wants them, and the student wants community.

Relationships in Action

Students are thirsty for meaningful relationships, both with themselves, each other, an encountering a relationship with Jesus. Relationships that change them from the inside out. This includes nurturing relationships between students, volunteers, families, and the broader congregation and community. This also means students are challenged to see beyond where life is for them right now and are encouraged to see where God is leading them in the future.

Relationships are what make ministry helpful and empowering in their everyday life. If it wasn’t a relationship with Jesus that we are inviting students into, then we’re just a social club. If it’s not relationships with other students we are challenging, then students may struggle to know what healthy connection looks like. If relationships with caring adults is missed, then we miss on the opportunity for adults to support and guide students in the big and small ways of life.

A Network of Influencing

The dream of any student ministry is to empower students to own their faith and embrace the influence for Jesus they have on their peers. This involves challenging students to understand broken/toxic influences and challenge them to continue to step into new life in Jesus. This also means empowering parents, volunteers, and members of the congregation to be influences in the lives of students. Adults should be encouraged to understand their capacity for influence as the broader Body of Christ.

Network has been a common word in the last 10-15 years. Let your mind go wildthinking about all the different ways students are influenced on a regular basis. Influenced by parents, peers, social media, siblings, teachers, coaches, pastors, and the list can only go on. Even dissecting the purpose behind a network of influencing even more, it’s easy to communicate that students have a network of influences regardless. The question is always whether that network of influence is guiding a student towards spiritual transformation with Jesus.

We all have our pithy communication phrases to communicate with students, families, and volunteers. Make sure yours are intentional, helpful, and theological informed.

What phrases are helping you communicate purpose in youth ministry?

Want to explore more ideas for communicating with purpose and vision? Check out Creating A Vision You Can Talk About for your youth ministry and church.

Tim Balow

TIm Balow is has served in a variety of youth worker roles between Chicago and Minneapolis over the last 10 years. Tim currently serves with Youth Specialties working on projects focused on customer and content operations. Tim's passion is to serve the under-resourced youth worker and to encourage the next generation of students to step into a transformative relationship with Jesus.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.