I recently overhead a conversation between two people who were talking about reputation and how it doesn’t matter, it got me thinking, because reputation involves what others think of you, I could kind of see why they were so strong on the fact that it didn’t matter so much what others thought. Quite quickly I realized that it actually does matter what others think of our youth ministries and our churches.
Because our reputation is something that we create! It’s a reflection of our actions, words & core beliefs & through that a perception is formed about who we are and what we stand for.
We went through a stage in our youth ministry where we started with different things like:
McDonalds – Helping us con teenagers into coming to youth since 1971
Apple- deliver of the greatest phones + laptops
Koorong- supplier of our everyday Christian needs
What did we want to be known for?
How did we want to be known?
How did we want young people to view us?
How did we want parents to see us?
How did we want to be known in our communities & in our local high schools?
With our young people, we have the opportunity to disciple them into the future of our churches. The aim of youth ministry is to bless the church. We need to show them how to be just as excited about Sunday mornings as they are about youth nights, afterall, we as youth ministries are just the extension of the church and without the church, we wouldn’t exist. Involving our teenagers in serving areas not only shows the church that we are not our own entity, but it also gives the teenagers a sense of ownership. Lining up the vision of the youth ministry with the vision of the Senior Pastor and church is a key in gaining good reputation within the church walls. We need to be the reflections of our Senior Pastors in our language and our actions.
The more I work with teenagers the more it becomes apparent that young people are attracted to real, authentic, family connections. Young people will often listen to what we DO rather than what we SAY. Young people will want to bring their friends when we as pastors & leaders are committed to building a culture of commitment, passion, determination, consistency and a whatever it takes attitude. Often meaning that we need to be committed to and determined in seeing our young people grow in their walk with God and their everyday life skills. We need to be passionate about not only ourselves and the people within the walls of the church, but also be passionate about the lost and hurting and the platform that God has given us, whether that be our schools, our workplaces, our homes or our streets. I have found that consistency is key – consistent in being Christ like, consistent in our level of care, consistent in a commitment and passion, consistency in our programs. We need to be people where nothing is too hard, with a “whatever it takes” attitude, and a yes mentality. Sometimes this will involve long hours and big setups for programs that our teenagers will love and sometimes it will involve us just being available to have a good conversation over coffee with a teenager even if we’ve had a big week.
When it comes to parents, communication and relationship are key in gaining a good reputation. They want to know that their teenager is valued and that they are cared for in a safe environment. We need to cultivate a culture where parents know that our aim is to disciple the teenagers to be the best possible version of themselves and that our aim isn’t just to have the biggest youth ministry in the area. Chatting with a parent on a Sunday morning, giving a parent a call midweek or going out for a coffee will go a long way in building a solid relationship with the parents.