Culture Determines Ministry Impact
I have the blessing of being in ministry for over 12 years, and in those twelve years, I have held a variety of positions. From church intern to skatepark minister. Jr. High minister to lead pastor and now college minister! Over the past 12 years, I learned that even though ministries look different within different contexts, there is always one thing they have in common.
MINISTRY CULTURE MATTERS!
The students in your ministry will never be on mission if your ministry doesn’t get focused on the gospel mission! And when your ministry isn’t focused, it quickly turns into a group where people come to “chill” versus being a powerful movement that God intends for the ministry to be.
If you get anything from this article, I want you to get this:
The culture of your ministry determines what kind of impact your ministry will make! A mission-focused culture will lead to mission-focused ministry, but an inwardly focused culture equals no mission at all.
Culture determines ministry impact!
Here are a few steps to help you shift your ministry culture into a ministry focused on getting students on mission.
***Disclaimer*** I have learned that changing a negative culture into a mission-focused culture is very difficult and takes time. Fortunately, in college ministry, things change, and students graduate every semester. What would typically take a few years to shift within a church context can happen quickly within just a few semesters (and with many prayers, hard work, and Red Bull, of course).
How to shift your ministry culture:
Evaluate your heart and the current culture. Before evaluating your ministry, we should do as David did in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.”
If we desire to see our college students take charge of their faith, read the Bible consistently, pray daily, fight their sin, be vulnerable, be committed to the church, and share the gospel boldly, then we must be the first to lead those things out. Know that your students watch you and follow suit.
You cannot expect your students to have gospel appointments if you do not pursue them yourself. You cannot expect your students to be inviters if you are not on campus trying to meet and invite new students yourself. Paul told Timothy to “follow me as I follow Christ.”
It’s never fun or easy to evaluate ourselves, but it always leads to growth! After we spend time in prayer and checking our hearts, we can begin to evaluate what the culture within the ministry looks like. Here are a few questions you can ask to help determine the current culture within your ministry:
-How many visitors did we have last semester, and how did we follow up?
-Are the events we planned geared for the Christians we already have or are they geared toward bringing in non-believing students?
-Do we have an inwardly focused ministry, or are we mission-focused?
-How many gospel conversations did my leadership team and I have last semester?
-How many students do we have connected to the local church on Sunday mornings?
-How present are we on the college campuses?
-What do we consider a “win” for the ministry, and how do we celebrate that?
-Are we aligned with the mission and values of our church?
After evaluating yourself and your current ministry culture, the next thing you want to do is determine what the ministry needs to look like.
Determine your next step!
I want you to imagine a student coming into your ministry their freshman year and staying with you for four years!
You want to gear everything in your ministry to take them from lost to laborer. With the end goal of that student being a laborer for the gospel, what steps do you need to take to make sure your ministry is set up for success?
In other words, do you have a ministry plan that helps lost students hear the gospel, get baptized and plugged into the church, be trained on how to share their faith, and then be empowered to have gospel conversations? If not, what do you need to eliminate, refocus, and start to make that happen?
Challenge & Lead!
Once you can see your ministry’s direction, the next step is to challenge your team to move. In ministry, we have to call out whatever is hindering the ministry from pursuing the mission.
Sometimes all it takes for a ministry to get focused is to call things the way they are! If the current culture is very inwardly focused, call it out and challenge the team to pray and take steps for change.
Make a clear and simple mission goal. For example:
– 20 new students this semester (makes them become inviters)
– 2-3 events that will draw in more than just “Christian” students
– Prayer walks on campus
Remember though, everything starts with you being the example. If you are going to challenge your students on not being cliqued up on your meeting nights and be more welcoming to visitors, you should be the one holding the door open and high fiving everyone! Set the challenge, and then lead out!
Your students will run with whatever you celebrate! If you see a student killing it with gospel appointments, bringing new guests, and doing a great job of interacting with new students, celebrate them!
Celebrating mission will foster a fire within the other students, and that fire becomes contagious in the entire ministry!
One of the biggest blessings (sometimes a curse, ha!) in my ministry is GroupMe. We have a GroupMe for our student leadership team, and every Monday, we ask the question, “Who are you meeting with this week, and who can we be praying for?” What is incredible is that the chat starts blowing up with names of gospel appointments! During our leadership meeting later in the week, I ask them how their follow-ups/gospel appointments went, and it turns into this great time of celebrating and cheering each other on.
If you celebrate the mission, you will see your ministry moving towards students participating more and more with the gospel mission!
I want you to know that you can impact college students through your ministry. You can see your ministry shift from a place where students come to “chill” and change into a full-blown gospel movement.
Evaluate your own heart and then your ministry!
Determine the next steps and focus!
Challenge your team and lead the efforts!
Celebrate any movement towards being on mission!!!
I am praying Galatians 6:9 over you and your students!