Stories are an important part of life. They help us understand the past and shape the future. Stories help us understand where we came from and where we are going. As a parent you have probably shared many stories with your children.
Our kids love to hear stories about when they were born or about funny things that have happened in the past. They especially love to hear stories about when WE were kids.
What stories have you shared?
One of the most important stories we can share with our children is how we came into a saving relationship with Jesus. Yet most parents don’t share their faith story with their kids.
Take some time to think through the story of how you came to trust Jesus as your savior, then share it with your children.
I like to think out loud and express those ideas on a white board where I can draw out and connect thoughts. While I often do this on my own, I have found greater value in working with others through collaboration.
Here are some reasons collaboration can be so powerful:
• Working together allows someone to ask refining questions as you share an idea or vision.
• One person’s idea or thought can inspire more ideas as direction or vision are developed.
• One person can be writing an idea while others continue to think. This keeps the creative thinking process rolling.
• A team can generate more ideas in a shorter period of time if they are working well together.
It took two people about 30 minutes to generate enough ideas to fill my white board.
Sharing ideas can be a powerful thing. Much is gained when we collaborate to create and refine ideas and direction.
I am not sure if it is our culture or something else that drives us to get everything perfect the first time. Maybe it comes from our growing expectations of having what ever we want immediately. We go to great extremes to make sure what we do is exactly right the first time we do it.
Please don’t get me wrong, I like being well thought out and giving something my best shot but learning involves trying and failing and trying again and that takes time.
Instead of taking the time to get it all right the first time…and often we don’t which adds to our frustration…why not commit to taking the time to learn and adjust which leads to getting it right in the long run?
When leading a team this approach will require more vision casting and reassurance that plans are moving forward despite perceived setbacks.
But then isn’t that what leaders do?
Sometimes ministry can get really complicated and it is easy to lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish. While there may be many moving parts it is important to keep it simple, so simple you can draw out the vision of your ministry on a dry erase board.
Since combining student and kids under one directional leader I have had to do much thinking on where things are going and how we will get there. A staff member from another department came to my office seeking clarity on where things are headed.
This was great practice for me as I drew it all out on the board in my office which happens to be 8ft X 8ft. Two days later I had given that same “presentation” 3 more times.
The other day I was walking through the store with my son. As we stood in line waiting to check out. He noticed this graphic on the purse of the lady standing in front of us.
He tapped me on the arm and asked, “Dad why does that lady have the Craigslist symbol on her purse? Does she work there or something?”
I explained to him what the symbol meant and how it has been used in the past. Of course he was confused about what any of that has to do with the website.
The context for language and symbols changes over time. If we want to communicate clearly we must know our audience and remember that the message they receive is just as important as the one we give.
Our Student Ministry Staff spent time brainstorming the answer to the question:
What do you feel is the most significant thing that needs to happen in the life of a student?
We recorded those answers on Post-it Notes and “puddled” the common ideas. The first thing we constructed was a simple vision statement that sounded like this:
Our desire is to see students whose lives are changed and transformed by the Gospel and who know God intimately.
We didn’t spend a ton of time crafting this statement but instead let it flow out of the ideas that were generated. I assured the team that this phrase was still “wet cement” so we didn’t have to completely fall in love with it just yet, instead it gives us some quick common language.
We also began constructing our ministry philosophy from these ideas. We believe that our vision happens when the students:
1.) Hear and understand God’s Word
2.) Connect through real community
3.) Grow in authentic discipleship
Our next step will be to begin developing strategies based on these ideas.
Our church has recently reorganized our students and kids into one ministry under one directional leader.
As that directional leader, one of the first things I did with the Student Ministry was observe. I went and watched both the Middle School and High School environments. I began attending every meeting and met individually with each staff member.
After two weeks, I facilitated a meeting for us to clarify the vision, ministry philosophy and wins. I did this same thing five years ago with the Children Ministry staff.
I posed a simple question: What do you think is the most significant thing that needs to happen in the life of student?
I gave them Post-it notes and pens to write their answers down. As the ideas began to flow, I collected the Post-it’s and stuck them on the wall. Once they were finished, I read each idea and together we moved them into categories of similar ideas.
This gave me a clear picture of how they think about ministry and from the ideas we began to articulate our vision, ministry philosophy and wins.