Guest Blogger: Scott Talley, Ebenezer Baptist Student Pastor
Student ministry changes lives forever. After serving in student ministry for the last 13 years, I can confidently say that student ministry has drastically changed. From the way students interact and engage to their understanding of spiritual matters, it is different.
Students’ mindsets have evolved with our culture. The time of students coming to a Youth Pastor’s office during the week has passed. Events, programs, and coming to hang in the church with the Youth Pastor no longer attract or grow ministries.
What grows a student ministry? A Student Pastor who is real, relational, and willing to leave the office to hangout with students. Students want pastors in their world.
Over the past year, I have studied a number of churches in America - diverse churches that vary in size, culture, and location. There was a common theme throughout my research. While many churches have a clear vision and mission, not many of them actually track or measure their progress.
Introducing the youth ministry scorecard.
What is a scorecard? A student ministry scorecard focuses on the clear development of a vision, mission and quantifiable objectives to track progress against those goals. The scorecard focuses on ways to move the ministry toward the vision and mission, while maintaining the operational and relational health.
While evaluating Elevate, the student ministry I serve, I discovered that our ministry was to inwardly focused. We measured our success based on quantity of students attending a ministry event or service. While it seemed realistic to go for quantity, this approach does not produce disciples or students with a firm foundation. After talking with the staff at my church and volunteers within the student ministry, we realized we needed a new approach focused on quality. This led to Elevate's student ministry scorecard.
After talking with different pastors and leaders, I came across a book called Make it Last by Jeff Lovingood. Lovingood created a scorecard with five different categories, or groups. We used the same structure:
- Coming to worship - reaching students to come worship, whether church or unchurched
- Connect in fellowship - focusing on developing Titus 2 relationships and having events for students to grow together
- Grow in discipleship - helping students own their faith and also beginning to disciple peers
- Serve others in ministry - having students take ownership of their faith, but also to start serving others around them
- Go reach the world - helping students to become missionaries where they live currently and where they go daily
Below illustrates the specific objectives along with various initiative that have led to a richer ministry.
Creating scorecard for Elevate was uncharted territory that presented its challenges. However, it was a project worth investing because we now have a common tool among church leaders and volunteers, as well as something students and parents can embrace.
I highly recommend every Youth Pastor take time to consider how they are communicating their ministry strategy and measuring performance against those objectives.
About the author: Scott joined Ebenezer Baptist in Hillsborough, North Carolina in 2014 after faithfully serving a congregation in VA where he also served as Student Pastor. He graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC with an M. Div. and Doctorate of Ministry. God has placed a burden upon the heart of Scott to reach teens with the Gospel as well as challenge students to live boldly for Christ. Scott and his wife Leigh were married in August of 2014. His life verse is Col. 3:17.