Refine The Message to Say What Matters Most
Reggie Joiner
September 13, 2021

Let’s pretend for a second that we were going to fast forward your life. You spend most of your life working in youth ministry or kid’s ministry, and 20-30 years from now, they throw you a party to retire. Just imagine that moment. You are standing in a room and people have come to celebrate […]

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Let’s pretend for a second that we were going to fast forward your life. You spend most of your life working in youth ministry or kid’s ministry, and 20-30 years from now, they throw you a party to retire. Just imagine that moment. You are standing in a room and people have come to celebrate the investment you made in their lives. As people are coming by, shaking your hand and thanking you, they keep saying things like this: 

“One thing you taught me in youth ministry that I’ll never forget is…” 

“One thing you said to me at this critical moment in my life that has stuck with me is…”

Now here’s the question. When they start explaining to how you made a difference in their life, what do you want them to say? 

What would it look like if you went ahead and fast-forwarded to that moment in time? Imagine if you decided what you wanted them to remember about your message and then backed up and made a list of those things.

Let’s start talking about those things over and over and over again. We can start considering what it means to refine the message in our ministries to ensure we talk about what matters most.

Do the Math: Why Refining the Message is Critical in Your Ministry

Let’s do the math for a second, because if we do this the right way, you will understand a few things about the average kid, the average teenager, or the average middle schooler who shows up in your ministry. 

When you really look at the facts, you will find out that sixth graders will show up in your spaces about 50% of the time. That means you’ll have about 25 hours this year to actually invest in the life of a middle schooler

30% of those 25 hours will be spent . . . 

  • Trying to find the room
  • Interacting in games
  • Updating their social media
  • Saying bye to each other as they leave

So, basically the average middle schooler will show up in your church for less than 20 hours in a given year. That means the average middle schooler will spend more time on their phone in one week than they will spend in your ministry in one year. 

They will spend . . . 

  • 200 hours studying math. 
  • 300 hours of watching TV
  • 600 hours of looking at their phones

And you have between 20 and 40 hours with them this year. 

Let’s say you have 40 hours in a given year to invest in the life of a kid or a teenager. Think about that for a second, think about the limitation of that. 

You have 40 hours to explain to them every week everything they need to know about God, faith, forgiveness, and life. Somewhere along the way, you have to make some decisions about what you’re going to teach. You will have to make some decisions on your strategy to refine the message in the 30 or 40 hours you have in a given year. 

What’s your Ministry Strategy?

So the question is . . . What’s your strategy?

Are you going to teach them chronologically through the Bible? 

Or are you going to explain to them the 14 doctrinal statements of your denomination? 

Are you going to teach them verse by verse through the book of Habakkuk?

Or are you going to amplify whatever your lead pastor says he wants you to talk about because that’s what he just talked about on Sunday morning? 

You need to decide what your strategy is. Because the truth is that have 40 hours in a given year to influence the kids and teenagers who keep coming back to your church every week. You are responsible for their spiritual growth. 

That’s why it’s important to refine the message in order to say what matters most. 

So that you can make the most of the 40 hours you have. 

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