It’s a simple phrase, but we repeat it frequently. It’s a rallying cry within our Junior High ministry leadership team.
Every Story Is Known.
Every junior high student who comes through the doors of Eagle Brook Church needs to be known. An adult must know their story — where they’re from, what school they go to, what they struggle with, who their friends are…
The premise is built on our singular purpose – to bring students into a relationship with each other, Christ-following adults, and ultimately, with God. As adult leaders, we can truly control the relationships with ourselves. Therefore, we make it a priority that every story is known.
This is the difference maker. This determines whether or not a student easily slips out the proverbial “back door.” This is the deciding factor on whether or not a student is “interested” in God or not — at least, in the context of our youth ministry.
We believe by knowing their story and caring deeply about them, without any intention to abandon them regardless of how they “turn out,” is the purest representation of God to them. Although we are humanly imperfect, we just believe by knowing them, loving them, walking with them, and engaging their lives on their terms on their turf, is the most effective form of showing God’s love and what a relationship with God is truly about.
Furthermore, although this isn’t the goal or agenda, by knowing who they are and loving them no matter what, we gain access into the innermost sanctuary of their souls and can hopefully point out how Jesus has already affected their lives, whether they know it or not.
No matter the size; no matter how many students come through our doors; no matter what type of person they are or the issues they bring; we want to become a youth ministry where every story is known.
To conclude, here are some ideas to move toward this reality:
* Recruit more leaders. Sustainable Youth Ministries have a 1 to 5 ratio (1 adult per 5 kids). You (youth pastor) would be more effective recruiting others to do this rather trying to accomplish knowing students yourself.
* Fill the vision bucket over and over and over again. As Bill Hybels said, “vision leaks.” I never get tired of repeating this mantra.
* Check in with your top leadership team. One of the greatest wins for me this year was to see our Service Team Coach (a woman who oversees the cafe, check-in, and tech team) teaching her team to KNOW STORIES. I loved it! It was no longer about simply doing “their job” — their job was to become leaders who knew stories!
* Define success. What is the end result? What does your youth ministry look like 6 months from now? A year? For us, one of the success markers is if every story is known.
What ways are you closing the back door? How are you pushing relationships as a primary purpose?