In March I published a post on this blog that outlined my process for planning. It has been my sincere honor and privilege recently to spend some time with some fellow Student Pastors who expressed to me that planning is easily their biggest area of struggle in Student Ministry. In my conversations with them, I began to think that it may be beneficial to some if I dedicated a post to each phase of planning and talked about it in detail…so I’ll be doing that over the next few weeks. So here’s the first of the 5 phases I use.
Phase 1: The 5-Year Plan
Stephen Covey has made millions of dollars off of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People…and for good reason. To me, the most eye-opening of these habits when I went through his course was Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind.
As Student Pastors, it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of filling events on the calendar. But what if every one of those events had a purpose? What if that purpose was greater than “increase attendance?” What if every single one of those events became a tactical measure for hitting an intentional goal? In other words…instead of hoping for success, what if we planned for success?
So the first question, then, is…how do you define “success” in your Student Ministry? Or, you could ask it this way…where do you want to be in 5 years? You may not be able to clearly picture that in your head right now. If not, take some time and think about it. More importantly…pray about it. A good starting point for that question is…what is the purpose of this Student Ministry? What is our Mission?
I’ve shared this before, but to avoid you digging through posts to find it, here is our Mission Statement at Youth Ablāz Student Ministries:
“Connecting students to God, connecting them to each other, and engaging them in ministry now.”
That’s a very intentional statement, comprised of 3 basic steps: Evangelism, Fellowship/Discipleship, and Christian Service. So when we prepared to write a 5-year plan, that gave us a pretty good framework.
When we were ready to write out that plan, I brainstormed with my team what kinds of things we wanted to see out our students. We captured these ideas, and we lumped them into categories. I then presented them to the Pastor. In that meeting, he and I tweaked them some, and re-presented it to the team. Here’s what we came up with (notice that each of these ties into one of those 3 overarching goals we extrapolated from our Mission Statement):
1. Grow the Youth Group (Evangelism)
2. The Student Ministry becomes self-reliant for outreach/promotion (Evangelism)
3. Youth events almost entirely student-led (Christian Service)
4. Affinitized Student Ministries, i.e. Prayer, Drama, Outreach, etc. (Christian Service)
5. Begin buildout of permanent Student space (Fellowship/Discipleship)
In our 5-year plan, each of these items also has subordinate tasks associated with it. Let’s take item 4 as an example:
4. Affinitized Student Ministries
- Train youth in various ministries the church already supports, and create a Youth context for these ministries
- Establish new ministries within the church within a Youth context
- Establish mentoring process for students who demonstrate a desire for these ministries
What’s the point of these subordinate tasks? It lays the groundwork for our 1-year strategy. But that’s for next post.
Remember, of course, it’s important to take your church’s culture into consideration when you think through these things. If you are in a church that has been around less than 5 years and you are trying to build out a student ministry, your 5-year plan may look different than it does for a church like ours, which runs about 250 and has been around 70 years.
If you want me to elaborate on any of these concepts, let me know by posting a question below!