5 Ways to Keep Your Youth Ministry Resolutions
"New Year, New Me!" If you received a dollar for every time you heard this phrase in the coming weeks, you might be able to buy that new air hockey table you've always wanted for the youth room. Something about a new year brings out the hopeful in people, and like we all know, these resolutions rarely last. If you are a resolution maker, I feel it is important to tell you there is nothing wrong with that. I am not here to bash new year's resolutions because I will set many myself. This can be helped, though, and I want to take a minute to talk about five ways you can help keep your resolutions this year, especially those about youth ministry.
1. Make them Public
Accountability is something we all need in our lives, and I know it is only weakness and fear, which make me run from accountability. The feelings of nervousness about accountability should serve as their confirmation on why we need it. If you want to set resolutions for your youth ministry this year, the best thing you can do is make them public.
For you enneagram fans out there, I’m a Three, which means I don’t like to appear as a failure. For you non-enneagram fans, I’m a go-getter who doesn’t like losing. When we make our resolutions public, we should not fear coming short of them. If anything, it helps create a community for people to rally around and help us move forward. Someone can't help if they don't know where you're going. A public resolution has the best chance of becoming a successful resolution. Speaking of community when it comes to resolutions, that takes us to our next tip.
2. Work With Other Youth Workers In Your Area
This shouldn’t just apply to your resolutions, but proper ministry in general. The odds are every student in your area does not go to your church. Your student’s friends might go to your youth group, but they could also be part of another faith community. What would it look like for you to go and work with other youth ministers in your area?
I'll never forget a friend who I met in a school cafeteria while I was a youth minister. He served at another local church, and it honestly gave us something to talk about while we waited for lunch periods to change over. We both knew what it felt like to connect with students, but more specifically, we knew the struggles of students in our area of service. There are specific struggles and challenges to each country's geographic area, and having other people to connect with over this is a powerful thing. Your fellow youth ministers will have goals for 2021, and you can work together to accomplish them as well as hold each other accountable!
3. Give Monthly Check Marks
Big dreams die to poor preparation. I'm sure someone more intelligent than me said this first, but it's true when it comes to your new year's resolutions. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see 100 students baptized this year, but you're going to need to break that down into smaller goals. If you reach October and you only have seven students baptized, then you might be in trouble. However, 100 students over twelve months are just over eight students a month. This goal suddenly becomes much more attainable because we realize we have all year to accomplish it.
This also lets you know how you are doing on these goals and resolutions throughout the year. I always prefer to do things in bite-size portions instead of tackling the entire process in one go. Your monthly check marks can be tricky to create, so here are a few simple tips to help with setting them. First, if it's numerical, then a division by twelve is a simple way to do things. Understand though with this method; certain months are different. Students are more engaged during the summer, but service attendance also decreases due to vacations and traveling. Be sure to adjust your goals based on youth ministry seasons.
Second, you don't have to have a goal for something every month. Honestly, until I stopped serving in the church, I did not know what a business quarter was. For those of you who are naïve like me, this breaks the year down into four separate quarters—January through March, April-June, etc. You don't have to divide everything up by months; perhaps you can do this by quarters. Ensure your timeline is achievable and workable for you!
Third, make sure this is something you want to accomplish. When you miss a month, it will either demotivate you to the point of quitting, or it should inspire you to go after it even more. If you don't believe in this resolution's impact, then these goals will become difficult to achieve.
4. Ensure These Are Impactful Resolutions
This leads directly into our fourth point, which is to make sure your resolutions are impactful. One place I see resolutions fail is when they are strictly numerical. "In 2021 we want to have 100 students attending our Wednesday night services each week." While this number would be incredible, my follow up question would be, why? Why does it matter for 100 students to attend rather than 75? Perhaps 100 represents 25% of your students in schools within a 10-mile radius of your church? You believe you should be serving at least 25% of the student population, and to do so, you'll need to see 100 students on Wednesday nights.
This is a powerful resolution backing a numerical point. This resolution has now aligned with your calling, which will enable you to feel inspired and ready to go and reach those 100 students. Life change in your student ministry isn't going to happen without meaningful work being done. We must not forget the sacrifice Jesus had to make for salvation to even become possible, and now we must help continue to advance the Gospel. Impactful resolutions will be met with great adversity because one doesn't want Jesus to succeed and reach students. When we understand the profound truth we carry with us, it will inspire and empower us to keep moving towards these resolutions.
5. Give Yourself Some Grace
Jesus is perfect. We often forget this truth, so I'm going to say it again for us. Jesus is perfect. Our imperfection is exactly why Jesus had to come in the first place. If you get to November next year and 26 students instead of the 100 you were searching for, you are not a failure. If you believe you have been faithful, intentional, and diligent with the time you've been given this year, then you have followed Christ down the path He called you towards.
We will not achieve every resolution we set, and that is ok. The goal is not to overlook resolutions or even diminish their value. Setting goals is an important and vital piece of youth ministry. Our value is not determined in their completion, but rather in our relationship with Christ.
You are doing incredible work each day as you pursue and empower this next generation with the truth of the Gospel. Let no one look down on the work you are doing because youth ministry is as important today as it has ever been. We here at YM360 want to serve in the trenches with you. If there is anything we can ever do to help or encourage you, please let us know!! Thank you for your time, and thank you for what you do!