Positioning Up Your Youth Ministry for Future Growth

Joseph Fowler
December 16th, 2020

The Pandemic has us all ready to move on to a new day and a fresh start. You are probably looking forward to 2021 with cautious optimism.

Honestly, what else can you do? There are a lot of reasons to hold on to hope for the future. We have learned so much about navigating life in this new climate. We have the hope of a potential vaccine. Oh, and Jesus is still Lord.

Without a doubt you have been planning, or at least thinking about planning the next year of ministry. Given the state of flux that we are used to living in right now, it can be extremely difficult to think long term. When you plan the next week, the very next day you are already having to pivot away from that plan. As frustrating as this all can be right now, we hope and pray for our ministries. We still want to reach students, and help them become fully developed disciples of Jesus. I’m here to remind you that, with God, all things are possible.

Though it feels like an uphill task, we can set ourselves up for big wins coming out of this season.

Here are 5 ways to set your ministry up for future success and growth:

Cultivate Spiritual Growth

Before doing any other planning or dreaming for growth in your ministry, be sure to define what success and growth actually mean for you. Most youth workers are judged by attendance numbers and budget consumption. Attendance has to be high, and cost needs to be low, and that leads most youth leaders to develop some type of balance between spiritual investment and attendance boosting attractions.

Forget about the numbers. Numbers are going to be skewed all over the place for a long time moving forward. Instead, shift to an all-in approach to developing spiritual maturity in your students, whether that investment is in 1 student or 100. You won’t see the attendance meter move much for a while, but you will watch the spiritual temperature of your students rise. When you have a group full of spiritually mature students, the future is bright.

Invest Now, Benefit Later

It is the best time to make changes, do the things you didn’t have time to do before, and work to boost the elements of your ministry that were a little anemic. Though I recognize that many churches are struggling financially, because of the slowdown, many of our budgets are strong because of the lack of spending that we have done.

Make good use of that margin that has been created to do the things you have been dreaming of. Invest in new technology or curriculum targeted at this season of life and specific to ministry moving out of the pandemic. Create great environments that your students will love upon their return. Life will look different a year from now. Go ahead and make good investments. You won’t reap immediate benefits, but you’ll see the growth happen later. 

Get Better

Investing in yourself now, will make you a much better leader down the road. It takes a dose of humility, but as leaders we need to understand that we have never “made it”. There are always improvements that need to be made in our leadership, and spiritual growth.

Right now you might not be having to manage as many volunteer leaders, and you probably haven’t had quite the extent of programming to maintain, or the numbers of students to keep up with.

Therefore, prepare now for the moment when things speed up. Devour as many books and podcasts as you can. Pick up new spiritual disciplines to spark spiritual growth in your life. If you are like me, you would much rather be out getting after it, reaching students, and developing leaders. When we aren’t able to do those things we feel like we are wasting our time. Investing in yourself spiritually and vocationally is never a waste of time. Embrace the grind.

Ears to the Ground, Feet Ready to Move

There is only so much concrete planning that we are able to do with so many unknowns in front of us. Therefore, make sure you have your ear to the ground, listening for the opportunities that arise in your community. Coupled with that, have your feet ready to move.

As soon as you see an inroad, or hear of a need, jump on it.

Go ahead and have the conversations that you need to have with your team, your pastor, elders, etc. so that there is no red tape, or hoops to jump through when the time comes to move. Getting that future win means being ready now.

Celebrate Every Win…Now

In these days there are so few things to celebrate, but we have a God who is still moving and doing amazing things. Do not wait for some big win, but celebrate every single small win every single moment that you can. You get more of what you celebrate, and these small wins will stack up.

On the contrary, if you allow yourself to be continually disappointed, or distracted by the negatives, you will end up spiraling into organizational paralysis.

Pray that God would open your eyes to His unseen work.

Joseph Fowler

Joseph has served in ministry for 14+ years. His passion is to reach the next generation and equip them to be fully functioning followers of Christ. He currently serves as the Pastor of Student Ministries at at CrossPointe Church, having lived and served all around Alabama, as well as speaking around the U.S. and the world. He graduated from the University of Alabama, and he went on to complete his Masters of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL. He and his wife, Kinsley, have two little boys named Camden and Cohen. He is an avid outdoorsman, sports fanatic and pop culture connoisseur.

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.