Winning (Part 2)

Can you win in ministry?

Yes, I believe you can.

If you missed the first part, check out why I think it’s important.

In this post, I want to give you want our team has come up with as a definition of success and wins for this ministry year.

Our one-sentence definition of success: Preparing students to become lifelong followers of Jesus.

Plain and simple, this is why we do what we do. We want students to not just be follower of Jesus for middle school, high school, or a year or two in college. We want to give them what they will need to be a lifelong follower of Jesus.

Specific wins for this ministry year:

1. Students make a decision to follow Jesus.

Our main church’s mission statement is to reach people for Christ. This win flows right out of the heartbeat of our church. We just truly want to give many, many opportunities for students to actually make a decision to follow Jesus. The journey has to begin somewhere. We will measure these by actually counting and celebrating how many students make decisions on the nights we ask them too.

2. Students love church and invite their friends.

We want church to be fun. We want them to love coming. And we want to make it a place where they can feel comfortable inviting their friends. We will measure this one through attendance and first-time guests. We will also measure this to see if these first-time guests come back.

3. Students are known.

In order to truly prepare students to be lifelong followers, they need to be known. They need someone (and hopefully, more than one adult) to know their name, who they are, where they come from, and where they are at in their relationship with Christ. We will measure this through small group participation. Do all small groups have at least 2 leaders? Do we have effective ratios? Small groups are optional at our church, so are students actively involved? This is the best place to be known. This win flows directly out of my favorite youth ministry book of all-time, Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry.

4. Students serve.

We find exponential growth occurs when students serve, specifically within the church, within their own ministries, and on mission trips. We make this a specific goal of ours to get students to take ownership and serve. We measure this by literally counting how many students serve in regular volunteer roles or on mission trips.

5. Volunteers love serving.

In order to reach 1000s of students, we need hundreds of volunteer leaders. And we need these volunteer leaders to not just be a warm body; we need them to be bought in and loving what they do. If we can help create a culture where they truly love volunteering within student ministries, they will invite their friends, help create a culture that volunteers love serving in, and show students how great it is to serve and be at church. We will measure this one by volunteer numbers growth and retention from year to year.

Some of these wins have been adapted right from another great book, Deep and Wide. But these wins, we feel, truly reflect the culture we are trying to create and where we want to be at the end of the year.

With these wins and definition of success, we can help point people each and every week in these directions in order to motivate, empower, and move people towards winning and feeling “successful.”

In my next blog post, I’ll lay out the ways we break these down on a weekly basis and give people a way to help achieve these wins each night.


Can you win in ministry?

Here’s what I know: If you start talking about winning or success in ministry, oh boy. Watch your back. You’re gonna get some battle axes chucked your way.

Why? Because people don’t like to button down success in ministry. Ministry is messy. It’s not easy to define success. One person’s idea of success might look different to another person’s idea. If one person defines winning in “nickels and noses,” another person might (no, will) throw their battle axe and say winning is defined in community outreach or dollars given away.

After going round and round, church leaders usually end up not landing on a definition of success or ever figure out how to win and what it would look like if they did win.

So, let me begin by saying: I have NO IDEA what the RIGHT answer is to defining success or winning.

Honestly, I don’t.

But what I do know is that I’m not going to let my lack of knowing for sure what the right answer is stop me from coming up with a definition of success or developing wins.

Let me give you three reasons why it’s important to develop wins and a definition of success:

1. Volunteer leaders who serve in your ministry area want to feel successful and know how to “win.”

When people serve and volunteer their time, whether you consider it selfish or not, they want to know that what they’re doing is worth their time, successful, and can potentially lead to a win. It’s innate in us. You might say: Jesus’ definition of winning was defined by servanthood and “losing.” And I’d say: You’re right! So come up with a WIN that reflects Jesus and help your volunteer leaders know each and every week if they’re winning or not.

2. If you know what a win looks like, you’ll know how to prepare.

If you know the goal of this game is to score as many points as possible, you’ll prepare on aspects that will help you score points! The same is true of ministry. If your goal is to give as many dollars away as possible to the local community, you’ll prepare and work towards that singular win.

3. Winning isn’t ultimately what is most important.

I’ve won a National Championship one time. That means in only ONE season of my entire life we didn’t end the season with a loss. The other seasons? We didn’t win in the end, and yet, we never felt like losers. We played hard. We strove. We succeeded in lots of ways. And that’s what mattered most — the small victories along the way.

In the next blog post, I’m going to lay out what our wins are for Student Ministries at Eagle Brook Church.

For now, take some time to reflect on your definition of success and what winning looks like. At the end of this week, this month, this ministry season, or this year, if you were to be asked; So, did you succeed? Did you win this year? How would you answer? Everyone has an answer whether they can articulate one or not. It’s up to you to discover what that is with the help of God.