Ending the Year with Success

Wringing Out the Old, Ringing in the New

If you’re like most people, you’re thinking, “Wow! December! Where did this year go?” As with us all, the end of a year and the preparation to begin a new year brings an opportunity to evaluate where our ministry has gone and where we’re going. As Scripture teaches, “Without a vision, the people perish.”

A crucial aspect of vision is constant evaluation and adjustment. Both change and stability are key components of vision. Keeping the main thing the main thing, while always tweaking the negatives and liabilities.

If you surveyed your students about the past year, what do you think they would say they have learned? What areas of discipleship would they say they have grown in? What would be an area they would express more change or help is needed in their lives?

Although there will never be a “church test” to evaluate your students to see if they are ready to go out into the “real world,” in a very real sense, that test is applied within the first year they are out of your ministry and away to college or the work force. When you look at the students that have passed through your ministry these last few years, what do you see? Is there a major strong point that is consistent in your graduates? Is there a consistent weak area you notice?

All of us who are ministers of the Gospel will have tendencies toward certain areas of strength or passion. Some are strong in evangelism, while weak in discipleship. Some produce prayer warriors, but not many missionaries. Some are strong in social justice, but weak in sharing their faith. On and on. Part of our job as ministers is to continually allow the Holy Spirit to balance us, using our gifts and strengths, while helping us in our weak areas so as to balance our ministries.

So, where did you win with your students this past year? Where did you put your punches? That will help determine where you should put time, energy, and resources. You likely have several events calendared such as DNow, retreat, and camp, but on-going throughout the weeks of ’12, where are you taking your students?

Decide now to evaluate where your ministry is currently and then put a solid plan in place for ’12, week in and week out between the “big events.”

Here are some ideas to consider as you plan toward a brand new year:

—Plan a retreat for your youth staff—anyone who ministers to students with you—even if it’s just a Saturday morning prayer and strategy session. Giving your volunteers and support staff an opportunity to speak into the ministry is vital.

—Give your students a survey with questions that you (and your team) write, asking about spiritual disciplines, strong areas, weak areas, etc. Tweak it each year and give it out every December to get feedback on where your students are.

—Consider a few focal areas of discipleship that create a target for you and your team, such as your students tend to be weak in sharing their faith, so you will focus on relational evangelism in ’12.

—Decide on a ministry theme and Scripture verse through which all events and ministry opportunities will flow. Use it like a filter to keep you on track. It could also keep you from having to come up with a different DNow, retreat, and camp theme. This will focus your students as well.

—Regardless of where you put your resources and energy, encourage your students to spend time with God daily and get to know Him. This is a failsafe that always brings them back to the truth of Christ—His Word and His presence.

Merry Christmas from the staff of Student Discipleship Ministries! Thank you for allowing us to partner with you this past year. May God bless you as you serve Him and His kids.