A few days ago, within a few hours of each other, I watched two similar acts by different people in different places. And it caused me to think about a concept I think has some application in our ministries.
We were playing in our neighborhood park when I saw a young girl, maybe 10 or 12, picking up trash that had overflowed out of the trash can. I looked to see if her parents had told her to do it. Best I could tell they had not. She appeared to simply be walking by, noticed the trash, and picked it up.
Our small group meets in a part of our church where there is a commons area. Coffee pot. Bunch of chairs. Some tables. Etc. I was getting coffee before class when I noticed a woman (who I know is not on staff at our church) straightening chairs and generally making things look neat before groups started meeting.
What do these two stories have in common? In both cases, the individual seemed to possess a certain amount of ownership in regards to her respective place.
In neither case was the individual’s action part of any job or obligation. No one expected them to take the time to make improvement to the park and the commons area, respectively. And yet, they did.
And so my question for us is pretty simple: Are we cultivating a ministry environment where people feel ownership?
What does ownership look like? This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it’s a start.
Environmental ownership may very well look similar to the two individual’s actions I just mentioned. Do you see students cleaning up without being asked? Do they straighten chairs? Throw away trash? Set up or break down on their own initiative?
Spiritual ownership may look a few different ways. It could be students willingly engaging in spiritual discussions. It could be students bringing friends to gatherings without being urged to do so. Or it could be students suggesting changes or improvements in your programming or methodology. Do you see these behaviors in students?
Do your students make it top priority to attend your youth ministry gatherings? Do they volunteer to help meet any one of the various needs that come up in the course of your ministry? Are they positive, active, and engaging to you and other adults?
So, what do you say? Do you see these habits in your students?
- If so, what have you done to give rise to this level of ownership?
- If not, what might you change to begin creating ownership in your students?
I’d love to hear what you think. What’s worked for you? What are some ideas to improve?