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What Does Ministry Look Like For You? An Interview With Steve Spence

What Does Ministry Look Like For You? An Interview With Steve Spence

I’ve known Steve Spence for over 20 years from when we first served together at an old LifeWay camp called, Crosspoint. We have some great memories from those summer moments. Well, many years later, Steve is now five years into leading the student ministry at New Vision in Murfreesboro, TN (www.newvisionlife.com), which has appeared on the list of the top 10 fastest growing churches in America. I was able to recently grab a meal with Steve and then connect on a few questions I thought might help other churches out there.
Q: TELL ME MORE ABOUT STUDENT MINISTRY THERE AT NEW VISION. IS IT JUST YOU OR DO YOU HAVE A TEAM?

A: We have a student ministry team of 4 full-time pastors/ associates. (Youth Pastor, MS Associate, HS Associate and Girls Ministry Assoc/ Assistant) Plus, we’re blessed with a whole lot of crazy-gifted adult volunteers.
Q: HOW ARE YOUR STUDENTS INVOLVED IN LEADERSHIP?

A: We have a MS Student Leadership team and a HS Student Leadership team. These students are passionate about serving and we spend once a month with them, intentionally developing and equipping them to “do the work of the ministry.” They are not a deciding body, but rather a servant-leadership team.
Q: COULD YOU SHARE A BIT ABOUT YOUR CULTURE?

A: Our culture is formed around one phrase: “Guiding students to lives of Gospel transformation.” We achieve this through the process of worship, groups, events, and intentional discipleship. We believe in the family and seek to equip/inspire parents to actively disciple their teenagers.
Q: HOW HAVE YOU STRUCTURED YOUR MINISTRY? DO YOU DO BIG PROGRAMMING? SMALL GROUPS? SUNDAY SCHOOL? SPLIT MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL?

A: Our ministry is structured around groups on Sunday morning. MS have on campus-groups during worship hours. HS have off-campus groups on Sunday nights, and we encourage our HS students to serve on Sunday mornings in areas of the church. Wednesday nights are large-group worship. Staggered starts. MS at 6, HS at 7:15. We have several big events throughout the year with the purpose of fellowship, discipleship, evangelism, and getting students connected in our on-going groups.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE MOST EFFECTIVE “THING” YOU HAVE DONE OVER THE LAST YEAR OR SO? I SAY “THING” VERY LOOSELY.

A: Most effective? Still working on it…not real sure about the results yet. Our HS off-campus groups kicked off last August and they are just getting off the ground. We have high hopes and from early polls…so far so good. I really believe this will be a great catalyst for more spiritual growth/outreach for our students.
Q: DID YOU DO HS GROUPS ON CAMPUS PRIOR TO GOING OFF CAMPUS IN AUGUST? CAN YOU TELL ANY DIFFERENCE WITH STUDENTS OFF CAMPUS RATHER THAN ON?

A: Yes, we were all on campus prior to August. The dynamic of New Vision is that our student ministry does not have four walls. In other words, we have one large room and we cram 200+ students in it and expect small groups to flourish and our leaders to teach. It’s hard. Always has been, and for many reasons we’ve been stuck with it. But last May I proposed the idea of moving our HS off campus. For the reasons of quiet, fellowship, no time constraints, and an opportunity to be authentic. We also had crazy time constraints because of the multiple services and overcrowding in those services. Our leaders would have to “shut it down,” even if the conversations were getting good because the next group of leaders/students was anxious to begin their group time. I have a vision of a group of students sitting in the living room of a leaders home with their Bibles on their laps, engaged in life and study. Last month I visited our 11th grade group. As I sat on the wall in the living room, and you know what? It happened. I saw students engaged like never before, talking, sharing, praying…all with the fresh aroma of chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven! The differences are few right now, but I believe over time and consistency, these groups will flourish. Not going to lie: it was crazy hard to make this shift.
Q: DO YOU HAVE A STORY YOU WOULD SHARE ABOUT THAT KID THAT YOU MAY HAVE NEVER THOUGHT WAS GOING TO GET IT AND WHERE THEY ARE NOW?

I do have a story… but I’d love for you to see it. Here’s a link to Savannah’s story. It will blow you away!! CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Q: USED A GREAT RESOURCE RECENTLY IN YOUR MINISTRY?

The “NEW” book from YM360 has been a really great resource for our new believers. We’ve given out a ton of them!
Q: IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING IN YOUR MINISTRY (THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE) WHAT MIGHT IT BE?

I’d love for our student leadership team to play a more active role in our ministry. They are growing and maturing in to their role, but for me, they can’t get there fast enough! :)
Q: THANKS FOR YOUR TIME, ONE LAST QUESTION…ANY THOUGHTS ON BALANCING FAMILY AND CHURCH?

Oh wow… the great balancing act of ministry. I live by my calendar. It’s shared with my wife and if it’s not on my calendar, I don’t attend it. If it gets on the calendar, my wife and I discuss it and find other ways make up lost time. Now, we are not rigid about the balance of hours (church took 2 hours on a Friday night for that deacon dinner so, I get back 2 hours on Monday) because, after all, it’s church. But when I walk in the door of my house, it’s family time. I try not to look at my phone or always on social media watching what my students post. I desire for my family to know that when I’m home, I’m home.

About The Author

J. Roger Davis

J. Roger Davis

J. Roger Davis joined ym360 in 2015 as President and leader of all live events & experiences. Roger has been creating and giving leadership to excellent, gospel-centered youth ministry events since 1993. Roger bleeds Tennessee Vol orange and is a big Dallas Cowboys & San Antonio Spurs fan (where he used to be a ball boy.) He and his wife, Becca (a former YM) live in Birmingham with their 4 kids: Sterling, Landry, Kinsley, and Murray.

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