When running a race I constantly think about the start and the end. When it comes to the beginning of the race I wonder, “Should I go full steam ahead or slow and steady?” I know if I don’t start correctly I could jeopardize the entire race. When it comes to the end I try to envision what crossing the finish line could look like. At these times I fantasize crossing the finish line, arms raised, family cheering me on, being lifted on my fellow runner’s shoulders and given a nice 12inch chicken finger sub. None of that but the sub ever happen; however, that vision gets me moving.
In ministry we need to constantly think about the beginning and the end. What that means is we need to think about our:
TARGET AUDIENCE AND IDEAL OUTCOME
Too many times we expect people to jump from unbeliever to fully committed, sold out Christian in a day. The problem with this mindset is that not everyone is starting from the same place. But the solution isn’t creating one ministry for everyone (that’s impossible), it’s finding a target audience. This can be a challenge in student ministry because there is an array of teens in the community, so we go after the teens who show natural social skills. Teens who are involved in sports, arts and other community groups. By focusing on a target audience you focus your energy and resource to create the greatest impact. It’s like the difference between a laser beam and a flash light.
Your ideal outcome should be a disciple of Christ; however, what that looks like exactly is the question you need to answer. No matter what, be specific. We define a disciple by the Christ-like habits we want them to embrace. For us those habits are personal prayer, accountable relationships, stewardship, sacramental grace, bible study and ministry. They aren’t the only ones; however, we feel they are important because they lead us to what we want adults to do in our church. We could focus on information; however, we don’t have enough time to teach it all. We do have the time to instill in them habits that will lead them to the Truth.
Focusing on who you are serving is key; however, it’s frustrating because we feel the pull to serve as many people as possible. We just need to remind ourselves to look for the greatest impact. If you do want to make an impact with more than one audience it’s important to partner with other youth ministers, support them and help them find their target audience. Together we can make an even great impact.
Who’s your target audience? Do you agree we should focus on one?