I'll never forget hearing the testimony of a missionary a number of years ago. He shared how he felt God's call overseas to a group of people who needed Christ. He shared candidly with the audience how He nearly gave up his ministry after going strong for 16 years (yes, 16 years!) without seeing any fruit to his ministry.
I have felt like that missionary so many times and I consistently hear the testimony of other people in the trenches who are so close to giving up. Bottom line: we often don't feel we are being effective in ministry and we want to quit.
Today I want to share with you 10 keys that have helped me stay effective in ministry:
1. PRAYER- Unlike many of the lists you read where prayer tends to land at the bottom of the list, I'd suggest that prayer is THE MASTER KEY to being effective in ministry and remaining in ministry for the long haul. Don't ever underestimate the power of prayer. The conclusion of the missionary's testimony was a good one... God brought revival to the people he was ministering to after a 16-year wait. Hundreds of people accepted Christ because of his faithfulness and his prayers.
2. VISION - I can look back on every ministry I've been a part of and see that I've been more effective when I have been clear in communicating my vision to the people I partner with and those I minister to. The scriptures say "where there is no vision the people perish." (Prov 29:18) If you want to be effective in ministry make sure that you communicate where you are going and how you plan to get there.
3. DISCIPLE - One of the very last commands of Jesus before leaving Earth was for us to "go and make disciples." (Matt 28:19) If we follow this command and reach those who don't know Christ and disciple them we will be effective because we are doing what Christ told us to do.
4. SHARE - Look for opportunities in your church or organization to create some intergenerational experiences to bring youth and adults together for bible study, fellowship and worship. Also, don't hesitate to lend yourself to other ministries within your church or organization. Sharing your gifts and heart with others outside of your student ministry will only help you.
5. TEAM - Youth workers increase their effectiveness when they work as a team. You may have heard it said "it takes a village to raise a child." I believe it takes a village to make an effective youth ministry: volunteers, student leaders, parents, etc.
6. RESEARCH - Knowing your audience and the culture you are reaching helps bring clarity to your vision and work in youth ministry. Today's teenagers are in a subculture all their own. In order for you to be effective in ministry you need to understand this culture. You help bridge the gap between their world and the world of youth ministry. Your research of the culture will help you stay relevant and it will equip you to teach students how to reach their friends.
7. ADMINISTRATION - Youth workers are leaders. The work requires that you lead, manage, and give vision to the ministry to which you have been called. It doesn't meant that your greatest gift is "administration." It may mean recruiting people around you to help you manage the ministry God has given you, which will position you to be effective.
8. MENTOR - One of the best decisions I ever made was to ask someone to mentor me. You need someone in your life to coach you, be your cheerleader, and your prayer partner. A great mentor will do this for you... and you will be better for having him or her in your life.
9. NETWORK - I often worry about youth workers who aren't connected with other people in the trenches. Youth Ministry is not a field for lone rangers. Trust me on this, if you are connected with other youth workers and connect regularly to share ideas and pray for each other you will be more effective than going it alone.
10. DEVELOPMENT - If you want to be effective you must have the ability to be a lifelong learner. A healthy youth ministry is led by someone who invest in their own personal development. They read books & blogs, interact with others, acquire new resources, and learn new ways of practicing ministry.
These 10 keys have helped me to be more effective in my ministry. Which keys have most helped you in your ministry? What did I miss?