It never fails. Every now and then I always see a post, in the Youthmin Facebook group, from a rookie youth pastor asking what is the first thing they should do when they get to their church? And there’s usually two responses: build relationships, or get them on board with your purpose and vision. Yet, what if I told you both of those answers are wrong?
I’ll be honest, the first response I don’t have any issues with. We’re supposed to be building relationships, and if you’re not, you might want to rethink your calling. The second response, however, has always bothered me for two reasons: (1) it’s not about “your” purpose and vision, it’s about God’s; and (2) all our purposes and vision are the same thing. Our purpose is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, and we desire to do that through fellowship, small groups, missions, etc. There’s nothing new under the sun here, and truthfully, all we’re really doing is either emphasizing, or deemphasizing, what the previous youth pastor was doing.
So the real question you should be asking when you first start at your church is, “What is God doing here?” and here’s why:
It Honors God
When we ask this question our immediate focus goes straight to our Lord and Savior. It reminds us we are bringing nothing new to the table, and that it is God who we are joining with to minister to his people. God saves, we don’t, and we would do well to remember that. God has been with the people we are serving long before we were there, and will be long after we leave. To think we have all the answers to take the ministry to the next level is idiotic. Be humbled by the fact God is allowing us to join him in his work.
It Honors the Previous Youth Pastor
The sad truth is, many of us go into a new ministry never thinking about what the previous youth pastor did. We automatically assume they didn’t know what they were doing and we dismantle their ministry without giving it a second thought. When we ask what is God doing here, it causes us to take a step back and look at what God was doing through the previous youth pastor. And even if they left on bad terms, to disregard the good God did through them is wrong. Be willing to honor the work of the previous youth pastor.
It Honors the People
Even though the previous youth pastor is gone, the people he worked with and ministered to are still there. They are the ones who have been keeping the ministry going. They are the ones who have invested their time and effort to make sure the students have been given every opportunity to grow in Christ. They have a greater interest in this ministry than you or I ever will, because they stay. When we push our own agenda, we disregard all of their efforts. Seek what God is doing so you can honor what he has been doing through his children.
In the end, the real truth is, we’re always supposed to be seeking what God is doing in our ministries. We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of ministry that we forget to do this. No matter where we are in ministry, it’s always hard to wait on God and discover how he is moving. Yet, it is the best thing for us to do. Before you do anything else, never forget to ask what God is already doing.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest, 10 being the highest) how important is it to cast purpose and vision?
What have you established in your current ministry that hope the next person honors?