In an earlier post we already discussed why your youth ministry needs a mission statement. In this post we’ll have a look at how you can create a mission statement for your youth ministry.
Communicate the ‘why’ of a mission statement
Before you dive into the practical aspects of a mission statement, it’s important that you and your leaders are convinced why you need one. If you can’t see the benefits of a mission statement or if your team doesn’t see the need for one, chances are it’ll end up in a drawer somewhere (or whatever a digital version is of a drawer…an unused folder?) That means you have to convince yourself and other of the necessity of having a mission statement for your youth ministry. When your team is on board, it’s time to get to work.
Talk, discuss and talk some more
A mission statement isn’t something you can create in an afternoon. You should take the time to have serious discussions with your leaders, your volunteers and maybe even people outside of your youth ministry, like the board, parents, etc. They key question you have to find an answer to is this:
Why does our youth ministry exist?
That’s the question your eventual mission statement should answer. Why do you exits? What is your purpose? What do you want to accomplish, get done, change?
Most mission statements also express the core values of the organization (or in your case: youth ministry). Think of values like respect, equality, compassion, or integrity, but also of concepts like family-based ministry. A second question you could brainstorm about to define your mission statement is therefore something like this:
What’s important to us?
If you take the time to discuss these two questions, you’ll probably find that you’ll start out quite broad and vague and you’ll need to get more specific. That’s okay, just take the time to hear everyone thoughts and opinions. And don’t be alarmed or even shocked of your leaders have completely different opinions on what your mission should be!
Narrow it down
Once you have heard everyone’s opinion, try to narrow it down. What are the common denominators? What do people agree on? Here are some things to keep in mind as you do this:
- A mission statement should be short, preferably one or two sentences. People should be able to remember it!
- A mission statement isn’t a list of what you do, it’s why you do it
- Don’t limit yourself too much in a mission statement, create some space to evolve as an organization
- Keep it realistic, a mission statement that says you want to reach the whole world for Christ is admirable, but hardly practical
- Use dynamic words that inspire, make people want to start carrying it our right away. Use active, not passive verbs
Review the mission statement
Once you have created a mission statement, it’s important to have everyone involved review it. It will give them a chance to spot any mistakes that might have slipped through, but it will also help in the process of making the statement their own.
Communicate, communicate (repeat)
Once the mission statement for your youth ministry is definitive, the biggest challenge is to communicate it. Everyone involved in the youth ministry should not only know it, but actively support it and carry it out. Here are some ideas on how to accomplish that:
- Put it in the welcome-reader for all new volunteers and readers
- Discuss it at the start of each season with all the leaders
- Give it to the parents of new teens in your youth ministry so they know what to expect
- Whenever there’s a big decision to be made, use the mission statement as a guiding principle so people will see it’s being used
- Communicate it to the students themselves, for instance on the starting service or meeting of a new season
- Refer to the mission statement whenever necessary or appropriate
- Review it every two years or so to ensure it stays up to date and it’s fresh in people’s memory
To give you some inspiration, let’s look at some example mission statements from other youth ministries:
We exist to equip young people to develop a deeper relationship with Christ, encourage uplifting relationships with other Christians, and empower life changing relationships with non-believers. (Source: Bill Nance)
In partnership with families, the youth ministry of FBC exists to engage 100% of the students under its care, to train them to live independently in Christ, and to send them out as exceptional, godly men and women of integrity who will transform their homes, their schools, their churches, their workplaces, and their worlds for Christ. (Source: First Baptist Church of Muncie)
The youth ministry of Fourth Presbyterian Church is an engaging and welcoming community for its youth and their friends that
- Surrounds youth with an unconditional love that fosters genuine relationships,
- Anchors them in the joys and traditions of the Christian faith,
- Energizes and equips them to extend the love of Christ to the world.
Our Children’s Ministry exists to bring children into age-appropriate WORSHIP where they can BELONG to the family of God, GROW in their relationship with Christ, learn to SERVE and then go SHARE Christ in the world! (mission statement of the children’s ministry of Saddleback Church)
Most of you will be familiar with the Purpose Driven philosophy of Saddleback and other churches. If you adhere to their philosophy, you may be tempted to just copy their mission statement. Don’t. Even if you share a vision, always put it into your own words. Own it.
If your youth ministry has a mission statement, please share it in the comments so we have some more examples!