How to launch a vision night in your student ministryBy Mark Etheridge

Perhaps you’re in a student ministry, and you sense your ministry needs more direction. I’m sure you’ve shared your heart with your students, but you’re not sure if they’re getting it, or you’re not sure how to get them more excited about what you’re doing. I would recommend doing something that I call a “Vision Night.” This night is designed to let your students what you’re all about as a ministry, and how that ministry DNA translates into real life. Here are a few tips to launch your ministry through a Vision Night:

  1. Be Prepared.

This is a crucial night that will set the tone in your ministry for the coming year, so make sure you’re ready for it! Ask God to give you wisdom and direction so you can lead the students He’s given you to shepherd faithfully and effectively. Begin thinking about core values your ministry should embody, and plan how you will strategically present them. Also, begin thinking about special pieces and people whom will incorporate into this night. I would suggest beginning the planning stages at least 3 months in advance.

  1. Promote this Night Like Crazy.

Make a big deal about what you’re doing! Vocalize to your students how excited you are about this, and what you believe God will do in and through them, as they are a part of this student ministry. As a way of promotion, I made a couple of basic promotional videos we showed in weeks leading up to this night, and then shared them through social media. I also kept continually talked about a surprise they would receive (which were t-shirts with our new ministry name and logo) with the goal of building anticipation and excitement.

  1. Involve Parents.

Parents are a vital part of your student ministry, and look for ways to involve them in your ministry, and specifically in your vision night. I held a parent luncheon the week prior. I explained to the parents much of what I would tell the students the following week. My goal was to provide full disclosure about our ministry, and how we seek to partner with them in the spiritual development of their student.

  1. Have Volunteers.

Volunteers are a crucial part of your night. It’s simply too difficult to do everything, so make you have plenty of staff and delegate responsibilities where possible. A night like this is also a great entry point for leaders. You may win some leaders over to your vision for your ministry on this night along with your students.

  1. Don’t Just Cast Vision, but Teach the Bible.

The goal of this night is to cast vision from where you are to where you want to be. Yet, don’t get caught up in just casting vision, and neglect to open the Bible and teach it. Make sure your vision casting is rooted in the Scriptures. Explain to your students how the gospel should shape and drive everything that you do as a student ministry. A faithful ministry application should flow from a proper biblical interpretation.

  1. Pray, Pray, Pray.

We all know that student ministry is busy! And with a busy ministry, it becomes easy to neglect prayer for your ministry. But we’ve got to remember that no soul can move from death to life without the power of our glorious God. No student’s life can continually be transformed into the image of Jesus without the work of the Spirit in their hearts. It’s God who changes lives, not us. Expect that, believe that, and be dependent upon Him as you launch.

  1. Be Specific, but not Unrealistic.

Set some achievable goals for your ministry. Explain to your students these goals, and how you will strive to achieve them. Challenge your students to the point where they will be stretched, but don’t give them a goal that’s out of their sight distance. Emphasize this is not something they do as individuals, but with one another as the body of Christ.

  1. Make it a Ton of Fun!

This is an out-of-the-ordinary night, so do something special! We decided to make a video introducing our new ministry name, logo, and gave out t-shirts! Afterwards, we went outside and threw a dance party! Do something fun, and don’t be afraid to step out of the box.

These are some things I tried to incorporate into our Vision Night to move our ministry onto the mission that Jesus has called us to. Because after all, it’s not about us, but it’s all about Him, and our goal is to make Jesus famous in all we do. Our ministry’s motto is: “Meet Jesus, Become Like Jesus.” Ultimately, we’re about seeing students come into a relationship with Jesus, and for them to then grow in Christ-likeness, all by the transforming power of the gospel. May your Vision Night be a catalyst God uses to see students meet and become like Jesus.

Mark Etheridge currently serves as Youth Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Pittsboro, NC. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Master of Divinity program in Christian ministry. You can connect with Mark on both Twitter and Facebook.

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