I recently asked the question: What is the image of your youth ministry?
In this post, I want to give some ideas toward building a positive image of youth ministry in your church and community. As a reminder, we don’t want to make something seem good – we actually want it to be good! Most of the image of your youth ministry will come from whatever good work is being done. However, here is a list of eight things you can do to help make those good things known more effectively.
1) Share the vision – develop it if needed – A simple, clear compelling statement or will help in creating a positive image. Display it, talk about it, create momentum with it. If you don’t have one of these in place, begin praying that God will work in your heart to create one. One church we were in recently had a vision / mission that said something like: Be Real, Belong, Be Changed. It was on every t-shirt, every publicity piece and every registration form.
2) Create a culture of invitation – Always keep reminding students and families that there is room for more. Include the phrase “bring a friend” every time you mention youth ministry. Teach on it. Model it.
3) The big splash events – Decide which outreach events on the calendar will be great for inviting the masses and making a big splash in the community. Use these three or four events per year to pull out all the stops. Invite the local restaurants to donate toward it (a free meal for game winners, advertise on their signs, donate plates, cups or napkins, etc). Pull in people from your church who have unique contributions – utility work with access to a bucket truck for a pumpkin drop, owner of a junk yard to get a car that students can smash with a sledge hammer, someone who owns a photography studio and can come take pictures of the event to post. Also, invite every student that can be invited. Set a number goal so students are motivated to invite friends. [ Some thoughts on numbers in ministry] Invite the church to help in these one shot events – they get a good feeling of the kind of ministry they have to the students and it might open the door for future participation.
4) Local Missions and Service – Involve the students in local missions and service projects. Do them for the right reasons – to be a light of Christ to the community, but also let the community see. Post something online or in the paper with a picture. Let it be known.
5) The old time bulletin board and other PR – There’s nothing wrong with covering all the bases! And doing the old fashioned bulletin board at your church may work wonders for the image of your ministry to the next generation. Pictures, updates, vision, etc. People will stop to look. This is a great place to involve a volunteer. Bulletin boards are not really the place to pin up timely announcements – most kids won’t even look. It’s about building the over all culture of your youth ministry and giving the big picture to those who may stop to read. If there are pictures of the students, they will stop to look too.
6) Social Media – Obviously, social media will help build an image – one way or another. Use it to glorify Christ! Teach on the subject of making sure kids know that what they post, comment on, etc, will be evidence of fruit in their lives as a disciple of Jesus. Use all the means to stay in communication with kids and parents. And share great stuff for the rest of the word to see too. Also, if you are going to utilize social media for your ministry, be sure to engage – an outdated, not used page will not help the image of your ministry.
7) Give ownership to students – When students feel ownership on a particular project or issue, people will take notice. The students can’t help but be excited about it. They can’t help but talk about it. What areas might you give some students ownership in the ministry? What bite sized pieces can they take on?
8) Don’t forget the basics – There are basic leadership principles that need to be in place for any positives to outweigh the negatives. Clear communication with families about times, meeting places, mission trips, camp dates, etc. All these need to be polished. You want to keep families on your side when it comes to ministry and making it as easy on them as possible goes along way toward this. Other basics include praying for your ministry and for your church. Praying for the students and the families. Planning ahead. Inviting leaders to partner with you in ministry.
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8 Principles for life changing youth ministry – right where you are!