3 Keys to Relational Ministry

20 07 2011

One of the largest struggles I have had thus far in my ministry has been the balance between program and relationships. While I was in college, I developed the mind set that if the band, speaker, atmosphere, design, event, etc. is excellent, then the crowd will show up and lives will be changed. So as I started my ministry at Cornerstone I implemented this philosophy. I took a small Wednesday night Bible study and turned it into a full blown Sunday night worship service. We had a great band, awesome videos, crazy games, and messages that were crafted to be relevant and exciting. And the crazy thing is…it worked…for a little while.

We went from a group of 8 students to a group of more than 30 in a couple of months. I was ecstatic! I put more and more effort into the planning of our program and less focus into knowing the people coming to us. As this went on we lost our attendance numbers. I thought that it must have been the night of the week so we changed it to Wednesday…no change. Then I thought it must have been the band so we switched it around…no change. Then I swallowed some humble pie and changed the way that I preached….no change.

Finally, our senior minister called me into his office and delivered the truth. I had lost connection with our students. That message hurt but after evaluating my ministry I realized that I had replaced my love for students with my love for flashy success. So I hit the brakes and refocused myself on these three priorities in relational ministry.

Ministry is not a production

When you make your ministry a production it looses its “hook” into the lives of people. There could be the best movie of the year coming out, but if it opens on the same night as something which holds relational stock in your life, you’ll realize there’s always next week to see it. That’s how people will view your ministry if it’s just a production. The band will be there next week, the videos will be there next week, the games will be there next week. So rather that spending most of your week planning out the craziest programming ever, ministers should spend most of the week focusing on making a deep connection with people in their ministries.

Just because there’s an “I” in ministry, doesn’t mean you can do it alone

Unless you only have 3 people in your ministry, you need a team of leaders. What can happen when you try the solo-minister act is your connection in lives will end up shallow and ineffective OR you have a heart attack from stress and you die. Teams are the best way to ensure that all of the people in your ministry are being connected with. Let’s say you have 30 people in your ministry and you have a team of 6 leaders who connect with 5 different people each week. That means you can focus on connecting with certain people every week and with your leaders, but at the same time everyone in your ministry is receiving a relational connection every week.

People need love more than they need an experience

When I think back on my life there is one person who stands out as having the greatest impact, my D-Group leader Buzzy. He met with me (and the group) every week at Chic-Fil-A, without an agenda, but only to love us and share life with us. The crazy thing is, he was involved in our youth program, but my life was not changed because he played guitar with the youth band or because he taught lessons every once in a while 0r even because he ran around during crazy games. My life is what it is today because Buzzy loved me and I knew it. More than anything the people in our ministries need to feel the love of Christ from us in life and not hear or see it from stage.




6 responses

9 03 2010

Loved this article. Thanks for the reminder.

9 03 2010

Thanks man! I really appreciate that. We should hang out soon

9 03 2010
Kevin Rossen

I know the struggle between the two well. In addition to the things you mention above, you also need to know the context of your ministry and how it affects how you lead and serve in ministry. A youth ministry with 15 students will require leadership in a very different way than a youth ministry with 300 students. The hard part for a lot of people getting started out is that the books about youth ministry are published by authors of huge ministries. You have to adapt to your context.

Also, make sure you know what you’re leading people to. If the end goal of ministry is to have people show up at an event (which it’s not) you do things one way. But if the goal is helping people be conformed into Christ’s character more and more you’ll do things another way.

Mainly, make sure you don’t simplify ministry into just hanging out. There’s a much higher calling on the lives of students.

9 03 2010

Yeah, I think a lot of the time it could be really easy for YM’s to forget that they are not event planners but a stewards of the Kingdom of God in the lives of students.

Great thoughts Kevin, I really appreciate your wisdom.

9 03 2010

Ministry is primarily about relationships. At the same time the ugly truth is that programming creates opportunities for relationships to happen. The balance between the two is one question. What can we do in this program to encourage relationships?

9 03 2010

That’s true. The thing you’ve got to pray about when you ask that question is, “Am I willing to do what’s necessary about my programming to encourage relationships?” and “Is my church’s leadership willing to support me in the necessary changes necessary?” I’ve been blessed to have the elders and senior minister who listens to my ideas and offers support where needed.

Thanks Rocky.

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