GEL: The GZ Fall Retreat

I’m so stoked for our fall event. We’re calling it a retreat, which it is, but it’s a combination of a retreat/overnight at one of our church campuses — White Bear Lake.

GZ Fall Retreat – GEL – God Enters Life from Ground Zero EBC on Vimeo.

We always ask: What’s the point or what’s the win? We are doing this event so students can have a low-cost retreat experience in a non-threatening environment. Also, we want this to be an evangelistic event students invite their friends and students form more immediate relationships with each other and other leaders (in other words, GEL with each other). But, we also want to teach students (through three sessios) that God Entered Life (GEL), and continues to do so through Christ in them.

I can’t wait. It’s going to be sweet. And I think God is going to use it to truly GEL this ministry.

Launching Well

I seriously have not had time to even eek out a blog post the last 3 weeks because of our focus on launching well for our student ministry year.

There has been so much time, energy, and focus directed towards the beginning of this year — but all for great reason.

Want to know a truth I’ve learned the hard way? Launching well is the most important aspect of a “year.”

Depending on how your youth ministry or church year sets up, there is typically a launch season in the fall. For our ministry at Eagle Brook Church, we do regular weekly programming September through May, and take the summer off of regular student programming (we do occasional events and activities). Despite this reality, I always feel that summer is the busiest time of our year because we are preparing to launch well.

There are three things to consider when launching well:

1. Your Team.
I’ll say it time and time again: I work with the best student ministry staff team in the country (no offense anyone). In the junior high world at EBC, we have one Junior High Teaching Pastor/Program Director (me), three Junior High campus pastors, one Student Ministry Worship Leader (who oversees all the other worship leaders and teams), one student ministry assistant, and two “bosses” — a Family Ministries Director and his “vice” Family Ministries Director.

I can’t say enough about the importance of working with an incredible team. Some of us aren’t so lucky. To those who aren’t and have control over this, do whatever it takes to get the RIGHT PEOPLE ON THE BUS! If you don’t, you won’t launch well. Period. If you don’t have the right people on the bus, it doesn’t matter where you are trying to head, because you won’t get there.

Secondly, this team also includes a number of top-level volunteer leaders. We have “coaches” who are high-level volunteers that give a lot of time and energy to this program. In fact, they are the most important piece, in my opinion. Across all Junior High ministry, we have anywhere from 12-15 coaches. During the summer and early Fall, we spend time visioning, preparing, and planning to launch well. We honestly couldn’t do it without them.

2. A Set of Goals
At EBC, we set BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). I don’t want to write too much on this, because frankly, this should be an obvious. But our BHAGs are truly a motivator for us. We pray about them. We talk about them. We ask our volunteers about them. Then we set them, write them down, and pray! We set goals on 6 things: Number of Yes Responses; Average Attendance; Average # in Small Groups; # of Volunteers; # of students who serve at GZ or EBC; and sort of a random generosity goal. We keep these at the forefront of our minds and talk about them all the time.

3. A Plan On Paper
Most of our summer is spent visioning AND THEN setting a number of detailed initiatives and strategies to reach our goals. It’s not enough to talk about them; it requires a series of detailed strategies, initiatives, and plans that must be written down on paper! Even more than that, these plans must be revisited frequently.

To conclude, I’ve got three things:
* We pray a lot. A lot. We know none of this is done without the working of Christ in our lives and students’ lives. Our plans are garbage compared to the Plan of Christ.
* We learn a lot from other churches and people. We make no qualms about stealing plans, ideas, and resources. There is not a lot of pride in our world that gets in the way of learning from others.
* We launched really well this year. I’m so dang proud of our team, our volunteers, and our plans. God has really moved and we are standing by humbly as many of HIS plans are being unleashed. To give you some numbers (however you feel about numbers, well, use and measure with them because each number represents a life), we launched with 676 students (our BHAG is 675 – I think God is showing off) & 172 volunteers, and experienced an incredible two weeks of excitement, buzz, and energy.

All this to say and we believe it’s true: The only thing that will sustain us this year is Jesus Christ. Not our plans. Not our strategies.

Only Christ.