Years ago, I sat in at Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention, listening to Kara Powell, talk about her research connected to the new Sticky Faith book. I remember her on the main stage talking about programs being a tunnel to ministry but not being our ministry. She warned the crowd to make sure to be careful to not trade program for ministry. Even further back, I remember the late, Mike Yaconelli, speaking similar words of warning and inspiration over a crowd of youth workers. Like the grandfather of youth ministry that he was, he lovingly commanded us not to go back to our churches and get sucked right back into a system of programs, losing our pursuit of true ministry to students.
Pursue Ministry, not programs
Twenty-five years into youth ministry, I still find myself having to be reminded of these words. The difference between program and ministry. A few years ago, I intentionally decided to make myself and my team at the time a shortlist as a reminder for the year to pursue ministry and not just put on a program. I attached the list inside each leader folder as a constant reminder. I am now once again, going to be providing a similar list to my new team at my new church as a foundation for our coming new year.
Here are just 15 of those reminders for your year as well- the differences between “Program” and “Ministry”. May this list help you and your team, as you move forward into the year as well.
15. Program is about Quantity; Ministry is about Quality.
14. Program Spends money; Ministry Stewards money.
13. Program is about Tradition; Ministry is about Trajectory.
12. Program has Shoppers; Ministry has Members.
11. Program Plans; Ministry Prays.
10. Program meets a Social Need; Ministry meetings a Spiritual Need
9. Program seeks Success; Ministry Seeks Blessing.
8. Program is a Job; Ministry is a Calling.
7. Program is another Option in a busy schedule; Ministry is a Priority in a busy schedule.
6. Program is Led by a Leader; Ministry is Guided by a Team.
5. Program is about what People can Get; Ministry is about what People can Give.
4. Program is about Bodies in the Seats; Ministry is about Hearts in Eternity.
3. Program Teaches; Ministry Disciples.
2. Program is about Entertainment; Ministry is about Relationships.
1. Program is about Individuals; Ministry is about a Community.