One day years from now, chances are you are going to be talking to other children’s and youth pastors, and say something like this,
“I was there when the pandemic happened.”
Isn’t it true that many of us who have lived through this have had a little bit of an identity crisis when it comes to ministry and what we do because what we have done for years suddenly doesn’t work anymore?
And while this has been an incredibly frustrating time to be in ministry, it actually demonstrates an important principle.
What changes should be leveraged to highlight what never changes.
So during these seasons of change, we need to lean into each other and remind ourselves to not forget what never changes. That’s why it’s important to think in terms of strategy and remember that there is a difference between what changes and what never changes.
That’s why it’s important to connect your strategy to timeless values.
Because models of ministry change, but values never change. Values are actually the parts of your ministry that should drive the behavior of your culture and the decisions you make. So it’s important to ask ourselves what those values should be.
As we talk about this with leaders around the country, we always come back to these major issues or ideas. We call these the five principles of Orange Strategy.
You can’t build something that lasts without leaders who are bought into the mission and strategy.
It all comes back to this. We aren’t just trying to get people to simply believe something. We are trying to connect them to each other in a way that makes a difference because kids will grow out of your programming, but they won’t grow out of relationships.
Because Sunday is coming and we have got to present something. We need to speak the truth to a generation that will shape their faith and character.
Because how we partner with parents will ultimately determine the scope of our influence.
Because if you want what you do to last in the hearts and lives of kids, you have to make sure they’re experiencing what it means to be the church while they are still with you.
Now here is what is true about these values. The shape of these will change. The terminology will change and how you elevate them in your ministry may change, but even in a pandemic, the importance of these values won’t change. These are going to be things you keep going back to over and over again. And if we were going to take these ideas and put them in one sentence to illustrate what a strategy statement would look like, it would look like this:
Influence leaders and parents to create community around a timeless message that mobilizes the next generation to love God and serve others.
We want to put this in one sentence is because we can look at it and understand that our strategy is anchored to things that ultimately will never change. Then we can distinguish between how we do our programming, and the values we are hoping to accomplish that are timeless and never changing.
Let’s look closer at the values. We like to restate them this way:
When you get your team on the same page, you will have a different kind of impact.
Refine the Message
What you said last year might need to be said differently this year.
When you engage parents, you exponentially multiply your influence.
When you organize around relationships, you give a kid a sense of belonging, and another adult who cares about them.
So they discover what it looks like to be the church while they are at your church.
We think in terms of these values because even if a pandemic hits, and even if the world shifts and changes, you are still going to…
Care about what you are teaching
Want kids to have a sense of belonging
Invite kids and students to be the church
These values never change, but there is another thing we think is important.
If you want your ministry to have a lasting impact, you need to rebuild trust.
Trust is such a big issue because there’s a generation of parents, families, kids and teenagers who aren’t sure they trust the church anymore.
So, what does it look like to rebuild trust
With your leaders
In your message
By creating safe places for kids
With your community
Because when we think about the next decade, trust is going to be so important. So how do we start rebuilding it?
We start thinking through the values that are timeless and start with building trust with…
with each other,
with our neighborhoods,
and with the actual kid or teenager we’re inviting into safe places.
We start rebuilding trust by leveraging and innovating the things that change for the sake of what never changes.