Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Frame & Flow for Your Youth Ministry

Here is a "Frame and Flow" that I have used  for almost my whole youth ministry career.  It is a living
document and has changed a bit over the years. How I approach and think about each area has changed here and there, but overall heart and idea has stayed the same.  Maybe you have something similar that you use or that guides you.  For those who are new to youth ministry or just beginning to go to the next level in who you are and what you do this hopefully will also helpful.  We hand a version of this out to our volunteers and new staff to help them understand our process.  Once this is established as a frame to work inside of and a flow to work through it greatly helps and gives freedom. I hope it will greatly improve what you do and focus you as it has me.  I have over and over returned to it to keep me focused and faithful.

The Key Points and Some Thoughts on Each...
1. Purpose: This is not necessarily a "purpose-driven" model, but if that is helpful for you this would certainly fit well with that philosophy. The purpose is boiled down to your main "why you do what you do?" in your ministry.  This is something that you have to define for yourself based on who you are, where you are at, your group/church and variety of other definers. Put this as the beginning point of everything you do or want to do.  This is your funnel that pours the "flow" that trickles down through the rest.

2. Parameters: I put this on top and next, because before you can decide what you will do, you need to decide and define what you WON'T DO.   What are the absolute nonnegotiables and lines you will not cross in order accomplish your goal. These things in your ministry will make you or break you if do not set them up right off.  We are always pushing the lines of ministry and creating something that hopefully is cutting edge for where we are.  We need to find out and/or create the lines that we are going to push.  Talk to your leadership above you and below you and get some good input on this.  Also do a bit of research by talking to parents, others in the area, and maybe other youth ministry veterans.

Specific to Middle School and Jr. High ministry this is sometimes hard, because we feel the pressure to "grow up" our ministry to fit with the Sr. High ministry above us. You need to come up MS/JH specific parameters that fit and are specific to age group you work with.

3. Patterns: Once you know the WHY and WILL NOT you can define the WILL DO of your ministry.  The pattern of your ministry will become your organizational identity.  You, your leaders, your students, and your ministry will be know for what is done.   What is the questions you always hear--"What are you doing?", "What are we doing?, "What are we doing next?"   Once this is done that is when you can start to dream and make a VISION and decide on a TARGET and let the rest of the process flow.

Obviously, I could spend more time here defining each area of the "flow", but I wanted to keep this short and concentrate mostly on the "frame".  I feel as I talk to others in youth ministry and even in other ministry in the church, there seems to be a lack of good framework for what is being DONE.   I hope this little graphic and explanation can help you in what you are seek and praying to accomplish in your ministry.

As always feel free to email or comment your questions.  I would be more than happy to spend more time explaining and defining the whole flow for you. Blessings as you create, dream, and follow your call!