Now…this may be a shock, so strap your seat belts on and prepare yourself! Youth ministry is all about relationships. I know, mind blown! But truly stop and think about it. Youth ministry involves your relationship with God, your relationship with your leaders, your relationship with students, your relationship with parents, students’ relationship with God, students’ relationship with others, and on and on it goes!

If relationships are so foundational to our work in youth ministry, then we must also have relationship goals. With the start of the New Year, this is a perfect time to reassess and prayerfully meditate on how to intentionally grow our relationships. If we simply follow the flow without any direction, then we can all too easily become reactionary in our relationships rather than proactively fostering growth.

Therefore, I have four main categories along with a few select questions that have greatly helped me to dissect and evaluate the various aspects of my relationships within youth ministry. Please note, these questions are to get you thinking and brainstorming, not to make you feel as if every question must have an answer by tomorrow. My goal for you (and for me) is to simply get us thinking beyond the mundane and routine…so let’s begin!

SOCIAL (Your relationship with Students)

  • What are some ways that you can intentionally invest in students this church quarter (January-March)?
    • Are there any fringe students that need a personal touch?
    • What big extracurricular events are coming up for your students? Have you checked their school calendars?
    • What “small” things can you do beyond youth group time to foster community? (example: pizza after evening service, open gym, movie night at your house)
    • How can you connect one-on-one with teens throughout the week? (example: text asking for prayer requests, take them on visitation, go to a meal)
  • My Social Goal: Connect with the older teens who attend but are more disconnected by creating leadership roles that fit their skill set.

PARENTAL (Your relationship with Parents)

  • What are you intentionally doing this quarter to communicate and develop rapport with the parents of your students?
    • Do you have a method of updating parents about events and services?
    • Have you personally talked with the parents of your students? (In other words…do they know you?)
    • How can you encourage them about their child’s spiritual growth? (example: encouraging text message, purposeful conversation after church)
    • Are there any resources you could offer that will help parents connect with their students personally and spiritually? (Don’t worry, we’ll make this another blog post soon)
  • My Parental Goal: Create a parent resource center online or in the youth room

SPIRITUAL (Your students’ relationship with God)

  • What are you intentionally doing this quarter that will foster a desire for and a commitment to spiritual growth amongst your students?
    • Are you aware of which students have not yet believed on the Gospel and which students need to take the step of being baptized?
    • What applicable action steps do your lessons give your students?
    • Do you have a personal prayer plan that specifically addresses students and their spiritual growth?
  • My Spiritual Goal: Create a chart of those within my youth group who need to hear the gospel and those who need to be baptized. Then develop a visitation plan to connect and converse with each student listed on the chart.

PERSONAL (Your relationship with God & with self)

  • What are you intentionally doing in your own life to grow in Christlikeness and develop as a disciple?
    • Are you daily reading God’s Word (more than just sermon prep) and praying (more than automatic cliches but intentional dialogue)?
    • Do you do things other than work? (because we all know it can be so easy to be enveloped in ministry and make the never-ending tasks our full identity)
    • Do you have physical goals (example: I’m learning I HAVE to workout to help me keep up with teens)
  • My Goal: Wake up an hour earlier (because I tend to wake up as late as humanly possible) to start the day with devotions and prayer.

The temptation now is to be overwhelmed with the large number of relationships and tasks and events that are ever growing and incredibly time consuming. But that’s where prayer and planning come in:

First, pray…pray for peace and wisdom. And as we’re promised in Scripture, He will provide both to the truly surrendered heart (Philippians 4:6-7 & James 1:5). When we pray, we are reminded that it is truly God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). I will accomplish 0% of these goals unless He is leading, and I am humbly following.

Second, don’t try to do it all! I know for certain that I can’t magically do all the things listed above in just 1 quarter. So, start with just creating a goal from each category. Or if that still feels stressful, then just choose one goal. My purpose for this article is not to remind you of all you haven’t done or accomplished, but to encourage us (myself 100% included) to be intentional.

Finally, know that these goals are not prescriptive or descriptive. You know your youth group, youth ministry, and personal life best, so morph these goals to best fit your situation.

Relationships matter. So, let us all ask ourselves: “ What are my relationship goals?”

May John 15:5 be a reminder of our greatest relationship which guides all our other interactions:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”