Have you ever been part of a BIG building project - one that required real blueprints? Or have you ever been involved in site development for a multi-building plan for a park or camp? I’ve always loved building things, and along the way I’ve learned that every really good result starts with a really good plan.
A Great Result Starts with a Great Plan
Your youth ministry really is a big project, and if you want it to accomplish what you sincerely feel God is calling you to accomplish, then you’re going to want to give your planning a high-quality shot. Let me give you an example …
About five years ago my family realized that it was the right time for us to build a new home. As my wife and I were both nearing retirement, we knew we would need to plan for that part of our lives. Our three children were completing their schooling and entering the workforce. We had to decide (and plan) what we wanted this new home to “do” for us.
So we started with some ideas:
- Home is where the family gathers, and we wanted our home to be a place that family members would enjoy bringing their friends (or families in the future).
- We wanted an informal home - no sacred, seldom-used living room and no formal dining room.
- We love the outdoors and wanted to engage the outdoors as part of our plan. It’s one of the best ways that we stay connected to God.
- We wanted to use natural building materials and colors that would be a natural fit for the wooded lot which we had bought earlier.
These were some of the things that we wanted our home to do for us, and after researching a number of plans, ideas, and styles, we began to work with a design engineer who developed our blueprints - sixteen pages of plans on paper that it would take to build the home for which we hoped. By doing that kind of careful planning we were able to pull it off!
So What Do You Want Your Youth Ministry to Do for the Kingdom? What Will Your House Look Like?
Maybe you have a really good answer to that question… maybe you don’t. But you have to know the answer to that question before you can really build a great youth ministry.
What are the ideas that are a part of your youth ministry house?
- Maybe your youth ministry is worship driven, and you want a large space with a stage and lots of electronic possibilities.
- Maybe you want a mission-driven house where you need storage for food or clothing drives.
- Maybe your youth ministry house needs lots of spaces to accommodate small groups or breakout sessions.
- Maybe you want an athletic ministry centered around sports teams.
- Maybe you need more of a concert house to accommodate a music-oriented ministry.
- Maybe your setting calls for a youth ministry centered on the outdoors - camping, rafting, canoeing, hiking, or rock climbing.
- Maybe yours is a skateboard ministry.
There are all sorts of youth ministry houses you know...
If you are struggling with what kind of youth ministry house is right for you, you might consider bringing in an outside firm to help you explore that question in order to find out what is just right for you and your ministry.
But that’s just the first page of the blueprints...
Sixteen Pages… Really?
I don’t think I can come up with all sixteen, but each of those pages in our family house plan was geared toward a specific thing. The front page gave a picture of the end result, but all of those other pages described what it would take to get there. Those pages described things like: dirt work to prepare the lot for building, footings, foundation, plumbing, electrical, framing, roof trusses, roofing, masonry, landscaping, and others to reflect the second floor.
But the blueprint for your youth ministry house needs lots of pages, too. You may have a picture of what you’re shooting for, but you’ll also need to plan for some specific things. You’ll need a facilities page, a budget page, a staffing page, a volunteer page, a leadership training page, a policies and procedures page, a transportation page, a communications page, an administrative page… you see what I mean.
But here’s the thing… they all have to fit together!
Think of Your Blueprint in Layers
So, let’s suppose that you have determined the right type of youth ministry house for you. Imagine that you are looking down at the top of your youth ministry house from about 300 feet up… don’t get scared now.
For an example, let’s say that you need a youth ministry house that allows you to focus on one large worship gathering for 130 youth, but you also want to break out into twelve small groups (two gender-based groups for each grade). Of course, youth ministry is complex, but we’ll keep this simple.
- Start with the facilities page - It might look like one large hub with smaller spaces around the edges for small groups.
- Now fold over the staffing page - maybe it has a lead youth minister, a half-time worship leader, a half-time small group coordinator, and a full-time administrative assistant.
- Fold over the volunteer page - it probably includes band members, production volunteers, small group leaders, hospitality folks, etc.
- The budget page - there will be a commitment to sound equipment, video projection, and lighting in that budget, as well as to small group curriculum, and salaries, as a start.
There are lots of pages, but they should basically all look similar from 300 feet up. They should all reflect the same priorities and values, each layer reflecting the same commitments and goals, folding in on top of each other in full support of one another.
The youth ministry house begins to get scary when either a part of the ministry does not fit in with the rest of the blueprints or when the ministry begins to feel stuck in a house that will not accommodate what a ministry really feels led to be and do.
Build a Great House By Starting with a Great Plan
So get that great youth ministry house picture in your head. Imagine it from 300 feet overhead and start building from the ground up, adding layer after layer of just the right things that reflect what is needed for your particular house. And stick to the plan!
If you get stuck, call me. I love to build things!