5 Steps To Plan With Purpose

Vince Parker
October 17th, 2019

This post is part of a feature series highlighting insights, encouragement, and inspiration from many of our speakers at this year’s National Youth Workers Convention in Tampa, FL. To join us, these speakers, and thousands of other youth workers, register today!

When is the last time you found yourself asking “why?” Why do the days seem to run together? Why does it feel like summer camp just wrapped up and now kids are already back in school? Why does it feel like it’s too soon to be planning a new year of youth experiences and strategies? Why can I not get in front of things? Do you find yourself knowing where you would like to see your ministry go but just can’t seem to gain traction and you don’t know why?

I’ve found myself there a time or two. When I do, I’m reminded of something my pastor, Craig Groeschel, once said. It changed how I approach everything I do. He said, “We all end up somewhere, but few people end up there on purpose.”

Whether you want to get out of a mountain of debt, or simply want to make the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, neither of those things will just happen by accident. You need to have a plan of attack. I call it “planning with purpose.” I want to share with you the five things I do when I have goals I want to achieve, need to course-correct, or need a whole new direction for my ministry.


It’s hard to come up with a plan of attack if you don’t know where you want to go. Perhaps you’ve always led an event-based youth ministry, but your lead pastor challenged you to become more small-group focused. That’s great but, what does that look like? Is it creating an environment where students can hang out talking about Fortnite and the latest Chance the Rapper album, or are you looking for something more? While you may not know all the details up front, you want to be sure you are leading your leaders and stakeholders with strong vision like, “We want to create small groups that are based on trusted relationships where students can grow in their faith and exercise it.”


Before you know where you’re going, you have to know where you are starting. Once while visiting one of our locations in Texas, our Ft. Worth youth pastor recommended a great place for chicken and waffles. I was eager to go because who doesn’t love chicken and waffles? I put the address in my phone and prepared to leave when I noticed GPS said it would be a 14-hour drive. I double-checked the address and it was correct. The problem was, for some strange reason, my phone thought I was in Minnesota. That would have been one long trip. So, before you even get started, you need know exactly where you are.


So now you know where you want to go, and you know where you are starting. The next question you need to ask is, “How will I know if my new strategy is working?” How will you know what to celebrate and where to make course corrections? Imagine the look on Usain Bolt’s face if someone told him that he didn’t actually win all of those 100m dashes. That, in fact, the winner was decided based on which person had the shortest stride while running. Seems odd, but I have conversations all the time with youth pastors and leaders who say, “I can’t seem to figure out why my lead/executive pastor doesn’t see the points I’m putting on the board” or “Why don’t they see all of the wins in my ministry?” When I hear this, I always ask if the two of them have sat down together to establish what a win is.


No matter where your youth ministry is now or where you are going, I’m willing to bet a couple of Fornite skins that someone has been there before or in a similar situation. Before you start laying out your perfect 11-step plan, it’s time to start asking some questions and doing some research. Find out what others before you have learned and use that knowledge to help. While you would love to be the first to climb Mt. Everest, asking those that have gone before you will make your climb easier, smoother and more efficient. It will also allow you to see possible pitfalls before you even take off.


Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”  When I was in the Army, I had a Sergeant who always said, “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” The same is true when it comes to creating a plan. The proper steps set up for a great plan, and a great plan followed up by great execution will help you find success.

The next time you face a problem, obstacle, or opportunity for change, ask yourself “What is my plan of attack?” When you plan with a purpose, your efforts to grow and get better will be intentional and strategic – resulting in fast and positive results.

Vince Parker

Vince serves as the Central Ministry Leader for Switch, the student ministry at Life.Church. With more than 10 years on the Life.Church team, he uses his pastoral experience and eye for excellence to lead a team of more than 30 youth pastors across 10 states. Prior to his current role, Vince served as a youth pastor and as the Life.Church Broadway and Britton Pastor. Vince and his wife, Melissa, live in Oklahoma City with their daughter.

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.