written by : Nate Ortiz

Welcome 2018! The start of a new year brings the promise of exciting potential and the opportunity for a fresh start. In the youth ministry world, January is the month where things begin to ramp back up. We look forward to getting back in a rhythm with our schedules since students head back to school and we are coming off of the Christmas season.

Here are some thoughts on how you can make sure 2018 starts off strong for your youth ministry.

Continuously Share the Vision

Your overarching ministry vision is something you typically would want to launch in August/September. January is the time to focus on keeping that vision in focus for your students and leaders.

Students are being pulled in multiple directions. Each activity and relationship in their life is demanding their time, talent, and commitment. The question we must keep in front of ourselves as youth pastors is, “why would a student want to come to our youth ministry?” It’s a tough question to ask ourselves, but it is an honest question.

With the start of a new year, make sure the students understand the vision of your youth ministry and OYM. When they understand the vision they will see the value of youth services and events in their lives. If we just rely on polished services and events with no greater vision, students will have a harder time staying committed to your youth ministry. Keep the vision continuously in front of your group.

Show Students Where They Fit

You have shared the vision to the best of your ability to your leaders and students, so what is next? They are ready to support the vision, but how? This is where you as a leader show your students where they fit.

As a youth pastor, a big part of your job is to show people the gold inside of them and how they personally bring value to the youth ministry. This is what God does for us. Don’t rely on the compelling presentation of vision to pull students in, sometimes it requires you showing them they matter in seeing the vision happen.

Establish Culture

You create culture when you empower and release your leaders. This applies for both your student and adult leaders. Empowerment isn’t just a leadership tools, but giving an area of responsibility for those tools to be put to use. Releasing isn’t just to tasks, but to people.

Your greatest help in youth ministry will be your leadership teams. They will help create and preserve the culture you want to create. As a leader you have to ask yourself, “In what ways am I establishing culture?” Your leaders will be the keepers of the culture you wish to create, but if you aren’t teaching and showing them the vision, you will have a hard time establishing a thriving culture within the ministry.

Define Goals

A New Year is filled with goals we want to achieve, but equally as important you need to define the success of those goals. Once you define success, you must decide how to record those goals.

Don’t set your goals simply in the areas of attendance and offerings; create multiple goals with your team. Some goals could be how many students come to know Jesus in a year, bring in 100 visitors in a year, launching a new ministry, seeing more students involved in the church on Sunday morning, STL offering goal, or seeing a number students called into ministry. Defined goals for you and your team will make it easier to celebrate the wins.

The Power of Review

There is an old saying that says “you can’t expect what you don’t inspect.” It is important as leader that you examine your effectiveness in the goals and vision you have laid out for yourself and the youth ministry.

As a youth pastor, consistently review your last sermon series, effectiveness of recruiting and equipping leaders, and sharing of the vision. Don’t become so wrapped up in vision that you forget to review what you completed.

For the youth ministry as a whole, talk with your students. Find out what events they really enjoyed; maybe it was a sermon series, or maybe they have an idea on how to make something better.

New Year New Potential

I hope some of these thoughts help you define what your own successful year of youth ministry looks like. Remember at OYM we are always here to help you navigate or build on the vision that God has given you. Never hesitate to reach out. I am looking forward to all that God has in store for us in Ohio. Believing for an amazing 2018!


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