Participating in the work of Christ to draw our young people to himself requires some planning.
By Dishon Mills, Pastor, Steele Creek, N.C.
Tis’ the season for New Year’s resolutions! As we take down the Christmas decorations, gym memberships go up! The New Year inspires people to examine their lives and look for areas of improvement. About half of Americans make resolutions. Sadly, only around 8% of people who make resolutions achieve their goals. Those who do have some things in common: their resolutions are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals; they give themselves grace when they make missteps; they adopt the mindset that some progress is better than none; and they involve their community of friends and family for support.
I believe this is a good lesson to apply to our children and youth ministries. I am not advocating for you to make New Year’s resolutions; I am encouraging you to be strategic about making improvements. In a past life, I worked as a consultant for nonprofit organizations, especially those who worked with children. I used to ask my clients, “Are you serving children better this year than you did last year? How do you know?” As those who disciple children, we should ask ourselves the same questions. Are we doing a good job discipling children? How do we know? Are we getting better at connecting young people to Jesus?
Notice what Paul wrote to believers in Ephesus.
Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV)
When it comes to children and youth ministry, we need to be careful and make sure we are making the most of every opportunity with our young people. One of the ways we do this is through the development of a ministry action plan (MAP). A good MAP does not simply list the activities that you have planned, although it should do that. A good MAP explains the goals you hope to achieve. It answers the question, “What is the point of our activities?” Taking our cue from successful makers of New Year’s resolutions, we should share our MAP with the congregation’s community to both get their help and prayer. Ultimately, our planning should result in us continually listening to the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction.
If we want to participate in the work of Christ to draw our young people to himself, we need to make a plan. More accurately, we need to discern the Spirit’s plan for us. As Paul said in Ephesians, we need to “understand what the Lord’s will is.” The good news is that God wants good things for our young people. He wants to reveal Christ to them and make them new. Let us do all we can to participate in that good work.