Is it time to go back to the basics?

No matter what it is, you start with the basics.  It could be starting at school, a new job, sport or musical instrument.  You want to start off simple so people understand everything there is to know so you start with the basics.  In ministry this is no different.  You start with simple programming and move on from there.  That way every can get on board.

For instance, when you start a student ministry program, you don’t automatically jump into every element of that ministry.  You start off small (i.e. youth group) and continue to add steps and programs as you need.

UnknownBut here is the question I’m wrestling with this summer, “are we doing too much?”. I realize that this isn’t an abnormal question student ministers ask, but for me it is hitting really hard this summer as our team is trying to figure out how to move forward. In particular, I’m really wondering if we are doing too much where we need to cut back to just the basics.  And, what would it look like for us to go back to the basics.

What “basics” am I talking about?  You know them.  It’s your church mission statement…going back to the Great Commission…back to the 2 greatest commandments. Those are as basic as you get.

Why am I thinking of cutting back?  There are a variety of reasons but it basically boils down to two things:

  1. Kids are too busy.  I know it sounds like a lame excuse, and kids should choose God over anything else.  As much as I would hope that to be true, the simple fact is it’s not.  They choose things over God all the time and so do we.  I can keep trying to do a lot of things hoping kids would chance their mind or I change our approach and hope it works.
  2. Overdoing creates under-commitment. In our effort to meet students needs, we tend to overdo. That is where I think our program is.  We are doing too much and because kids are busy as it is, they are picking and choosing from a lot of really good things to do rather than just a few really great things.
  3. Relationships over programs. By doing so many programmatic things for our student ministry I’m also zapping a lot of time, energy and effort from our leaders.  When they are doing so many programs and activities they have less time for real relationships with students.  And, as we all know, it is through relationships that lives are changed, not because of the programs.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not eliminating all our programming and activities.  However, I’m simplying trying rethink our strategy.  I wonder that if getting back to the basics and simplify things, if we can almost have a restart or relaunch to our program that will reinvigorate our students to become more involved…learning more about Christ and growing in Him more…simply by doing less and going back to the basics.

So, what do you think? What questions are you asking of your ministry this summer?  AND, what would it look like for you to go back to the basics this fall?  Share your thoughts below or on social media using #ymsidekick so we can all learn from each other.

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Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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