Creating a High School Strategy that Wins!

One of the most important and beneficial workshops that I attended at the 2015 Orange Conference was by Doug Fields on creating a viable strategy for your high school ministry. 

I considered this workshop so important because every single one of the principles that he discussed could be applied to just about every other facet of my life and ministry. I literally felt so full with all of his wisdom that I considered skipping the next couple of workshops just to digest what Fields talked about. 

I took fervent notes, trying to keep up with his pace, while also letting my heart and soul fill up with wisdom and discernment for my own ministry context. Of all of the breakouts I attended, I felt the Spirit move me during this one more than any other. I hope that these notes benefit you and your context. And for those of you reading this blog as a parent, volunteer, or caring adult, I hope that these notes can inspire, equip, and challenge you to do better and greater ministry in your context.

I believe in you and what God has called you to do! Praise God that we get to do this great work called Youth Ministry!

Some of these notes may be bullet pointed, paragraphed, and one liners. It all depends on how Fields shared his ideas. Check out the notes below:

Without a clear and articulate strategy, leaders will create their own. A strategy is a plan of action with the end in mind. We either move ourselves into ministry or move others into ministry. Typically, we adopt ministries and do the same old things, but we rarely slow down and evaluate. 

Programs are not transferrable, but principles are. 

When kids get committed to a program or person and then graduate into a place where those things are not there, they walk away. 

Do you have a clearly defined statement (purpose, vision, goal) that is articulated with an end in mind statement that everyone knows? Some of the best kept secrets in church and student ministry are the mission and purpose statements. Do your programs reflect the end game? Do your leaders, church members, and wider community know the end game of the ministry?

Do people know why you are doing what you're doing?

What is the resistance to my audience?

Some of the best use of skills in the church are those who can think strategically. Without a clear and compelling strategy, people will create one for you, especially parents. Big Personalities will determine a strategy without one. This is not effective long term. Ministries crumble over time when built on a personality. 

With a clear and compelling strategy:

1. You will attract and find great volunteers. You may be losing volunteers because they do not know what to do with the most precious commodity: time.

2. You will have minimal conflict. People may have great ideas, but if it does not meet the strategy, then it does not fit. 

3. You will generate enthusiasm. 

How do we improve our existing strategy?

1. Start with the end in mind. What does a discipled high school student look like? What would this kid look like upon graduation? How are we going to organize our ministry to get there? 

2. Design a strategy that combines the family with the faith community to demonstrate the message of God’s story - this combines the influence of the next generation. 

One of the reasons why students leave the church is because the church has under challenged them. 

If you want to win as a leader, you must keep your eyes focused on the end game. Define the end game. 

Work at being simple. You do not need to work at being complex - that’s easy! But you gotta work at being simple. Our volunteers need it simple, in easy terms, and in an understandable time frame. 

Consider these 5 areas of focus for your High School Ministry:

1. Magnification - Worship - Reach every kid

2. Maturity - Discipleship - Connect them with other kids and adult leaders who will shepherd them

3. Membership - Fellowship - Grow on their own

4. Mastery  - Ministry - Serve 

5. Missions - Evangelism - Honor

Align the players. Relationships drift and we need to constantly bring them back. We gotta constantly work on alignment. You gotta meet. You can’t create alignment unless you’re in the same room. 

Ask your volunteer leaders these 3 questions:

1. What’s your end game?

2. What’s your part?

3. What happens when you don’t play your part?

Be prepared to kill the sacred cows. When the horse dies, you gotta dismount. 

What would happen if you stop something in your ministry in order to do something more effective. Great leadership kills a strong program because it is not moving us in the direction we need to go - toward the end game. 

What is your primary message? What are you trying to teach?

What are your big rocks? Then repeat and repeat and repeat. 

Make sure relationships are part of the strategy. They are the key ingredient to the mission! You cannot disciple kids from the stage. It’s knee to knee, eye to eye. 

When you elevate your leaders and give away your title, then your kids, parents, church, local community, and the Kingdom of God wins!

How are we partnering with parents? How are we helping parents win? How are we connecting small group leaders to parents so they know they’re in this together?

Parents of teenagers always feel like failures.

Repeat and repeat the strategy. 

QUESTION: What is your take away from these notes?