In localized church ministry there is a pattern of people staying at a church for a few years and then moving on. What does this mean? Does it really make a difference how long you are at a church? Is it easier or harder to go from church to church? These are all good questions that I hear from time to time. This is a subject that everybody seems to have an opinion on as well.
Longevity in a specific local ministry is important, and here is why.
1. Longevity forces us to be truthful.
When we are focused on being somewhere for a long time we have to then deal with issues as they come. To many times we focus on the short-term and do not deal with issues. We have to make sure we don’t neglect people or issues. Issues will build into larger problems if you are staying in a ministry for a long period of time. We must be intentional about dealing with issues immediately.
2. Focus on relationships that will last.
Especially in Junior High Ministry we only get to have a student for a few years, so how are we supposed to build relationships that will last with students and adults?
One good thing to do is to look ahead. Try to build relationships with adults that have students already out of your ministry, and build relationships with people whose students haven’t yet entered your ministry. Especially when dealing with Youth Sponsors and Volunteers it is good to make sure it isn’t just parents. Parents are great, but will they leave your ministry when there student does. Try to mix your relationships up, so that they will last.
With students we have to communicate that we are here to stay. Students in many churches are used to seeing youth pastors come and go. We have to prove to them that we care for them beyond the doors of the church. We have to earn their trust, so they will open up to us. This takes time.
3. Plan, Plan, Plan!
Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. Plan ahead this communicates something very important to students and adults alike. If you plan ahead they feel prepared and safe. Parents trust because they have known what was going to happen. Students are excited because their parents will let them do things, and you are excited because everybody else is excited.
We also need to plan our teaching material. Don’t just grab something last-minute. Take the time to decide what needs talked about.
Longevity is very important in ministry. This could mean 5, 10, or even 40 years in a specific ministry. We have to make sure we don’t get to comfortable, but build strong relationships.