Sisyphus metaphor. Man rolling huge concrete ball up hill. Sisyphean work, task.

Whether this ministry year has been a good one or a disappointing one, you should ask yourself one question during the summer: How will next year be different? Many of us do the same thing year in and year out, but if we want to see our ministries grow, we have to change what we do. Most likely, your skills and your understanding and relationships with students and parents are growing, so it just makes sense that your ministry should grow too. But that won’t happen unless you’re intentional. So how can you use this summer to grow your ministry next fall?

Here are three suggestions:

1) Attach critical success factors to your mission.

Critical success factors are the most important things your youth ministry must do in order to accomplish the mission. Every youth ministry has a different set of success factors, but here are some examples: establishing a student leadership team, developing adult staff into mentors, getting parents to buy in and serve in the ministry. With your mission in mind, write down the five most important things that need to happen in your own youth ministry.

2) Set goals and action steps.

For each one of the critical success factors, create a goal that helps you accomplish that factor during the next ministry year. Then create action steps that you want to take in order to reach that goal. Think of action steps this way: You are on one side of a canyon and your goal is on the other side. What are the planks (or action steps) that you need to build a bridge across this canyon?

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Insanity_quoteCritical success factor: More parent involvement in the youth ministry.

Goal attached to that factor: 10 new parents serving in the ministry.

Potential action steps: Start a parent newsletter. Send a monthly parent update with specific ways parents can serve. Hold a parent recruitment night, where veteran parents share their testimonies about serving in the youth ministry. Start a blog for current parent volunteers to share their experiences. Start a parent prayer team.

3) Cast the vision.

First of all, realize that casting a vision is not explaining how to fix last year’s problems. Casting a vision is showing people the future. Once you have your goals set, use the summer to plan unique ways you can share your goals and your vision throughout the fall. You cannot accomplish your goals by yourself. That’s the bad news. The good news is, there is a whole church behind you to help, so don’t keep this vision to yourself. When we don’t cast the vision for our church, our volunteers, and our students, we limit the impact to only as far as we can reach. When we cast the vision regularly, the impact extends as far as a church can reach. Always be thinking, How can I cast the vision?

To make next year better, you will have to do something different. Don’t fall into youth ministry insanity by doing the same things year after year, but expecting different results. Be intentional about what you are going to do. Use the next few months to think it through. Set goals and action steps. Communicate your plans. And make sure that next year is different from this year.


Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have a dog that thinks he is their only child. Diesel is a 70-pound Weimaraner  who never leaves their side. Doug grew […]