This post is part of the Foundations Of Youth Ministry series. This is the first post in the series. Check out the rest of the series!
A philosophy of ministry is one of the most important pieces of the youth ministry puzzle.
This simple document is foundational to developing a solid youth ministry.
But what, exactly, is a philosophy of ministry?
Simply put, it’s a brief description of why you do ministry the way you do it. It’s not what you do in ministry. That’s your vision and purpose. It’s not how you do ministry. That’s your strategy. The philosophy of ministry states the why behind it all.
Why do you do what you do? I think that’s a pertinent question for us to ask, no matter what flavor of ministry we may be involved in. Why do we do it. The answer to that question can help you become more effective in your ministry role, as well as more passionate, more organized and more intentional.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about how to go about developing a philosophy of ministry. Several websites I’ve seen have described it as more of a strategy, or a simple document that seems to be thrown together. I feel that these are the wrong approach to developing a philosophy of ministry. I personally believe that this is a crucial part of building an effective youth ministry.
Let’s look at each of those four elements.
Like I mentioned, a philosophy of ministry explains why you do ministry the way that you do it. Once you nail those reasons down, your ministry effectiveness will increase exponentially. You will know the reasons why you do things, so you won’t settle for just doing anything. Planning an activity becomes much more focused; you don’t just pick something to fill a time slot. Everything you do has a purpose, as defined by your philosophy.
Once you define your philosophy of ministry, your passion increases. Because you’ve taken the time to sit down and think through the process of why you do things the way that you do them, you understand them, and yourself, better. Your reasons for doing ministry the way you do are more focused and better understood, thereby increasing your passion.
A philosophy of ministry helps you to be better organized. If something doesn’t fit under your reasons for why you do ministry, then you don’t do it. As a result, all of your ministry activities, teaching plans, events, and programs dovetail together nicely. You won’t waste as much time spinning your wheels on less effective tasks. You’ll become more organized.
This is perhaps the most important reason to spend some time defining and refining your philosophy of ministry. I’ve discovered that youth ministry has to be extremely intentional, or it won’t be effective, passionate or organized. You need to understand the why behind everything you do in youth ministry. For example, I hear people frequently talking about needing more volunteers in their ministry. As I listen, it becomes clear that they will settle for anyone to fill a spot. But I’ve discovered that being intentional in selecting people is much better in the long run. Filling a volunteer position with someone who is a strong believer, who loves teens, who is committed to serving in this ministry, who strives to model a godly lifestyle, will be much better in the long run than filling that same position with the first warm body that comes along. You won’t have to come back later and do some damage control, un-teaching and re-teaching your students. Trust me, intentionality is critical.
I hope this helps clarify the need for a philosophy of ministry. If you’d like to see an example of this, check out my philosophy of ministry.
Do you have a philosophy of ministry? How refined is it? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.