Summer time is a season full of dreams and big ideas.  Despite programming we tell ourselves, “This will be the summer I…”  And we feel good about this, because going into the summer we feel like we have more time and energy.  In reality nothing could be further from the truth.  Your calendar changes, and in some cases becomes busier.

Summer is supposed to be a time when we follow through on our ideas and set goals to achieving them.  However, as your time disappears before your eyes you wonder, “How are any of my ideas going to happen?”  It’s a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness; however, to make ideas happen you need to:

Create Steps: If a dream is too big, it will always seem daunting.  Look at creating mini mile markers to achieving it.  When you reach each step, celebrate because you are one step closer.

Write Them Down EVERYWHERE: When you write it down you are more than likely to remember.  The idea is no longer a wishful thought; but a tangible initiative.  Write it down in places where you will frequently see it, so that you don’t lose site.

Make Them Public:  There is nothing better than accountability to help you towards your ideas.  By making it public you are giving permission for people to ask you, “What happened to that Facebook page you said you were going to create?” or “I thought you said we would have new t-shirts this fall.” It might be humbling; however, it’ll keep you from falling away.

Delegate: You might come up with many ideas; however, have a hard time executing them, that’s okay.  If you find creating goals is easier than following through on them, find people who are workers and doers.  Build a team around you that’s going to carry your ideas through the mundane paperwork, charts and spreadsheets.

Creating goals and building dreams is an organic process that needs to be continuously moving.  Sometimes we come up with 75% of a great idea and the tendency is to kill it.  Write it down and don’t be afraid to look at it later.  Ideas are organisms, just like you and me they need to grow.

How do you help your ideas grow?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.


I did it today.  I ran my first half marathon.  I met my goal, I placed well, and I had a great sense of accomplishment.  I have thought about doing one for the past 7 years since I did a ten mile run, but I didn’t do it until earlier this year- as it is one “one of those things to do before my wife gives birth” sort of thing.

Paul reminds Timothy to “train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV).” Keeping this in mind, as I reflected over this morning’s race- there were some leadership and ministry principles that came to mind. Here are a few.

A dream never becomes reality until we do something about it.
Proverbs reminds us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (29:18 KJV). I believe this is more than a dream or a hope for something.  If God has given us a vision for our community, people, or goal- we have to begin to prayerfully plan this out.  I said that I always wanted to run the marathon.  What accomplished it? It took the act of setting my deadline and planning out the steps that it would take to make this happen.

What goal, dream, or vision do we have that could be accomplished if we planned to do something about it? Keep in mind that when we plan and pray, God may and can change our plans.

There will be opposition when we work to accomplish our goals.
Running hurt.  There was one or two runs I couldn’t finish while training.  There was rain, cold weather, and even snow (thank you Wisconsin!). It rained all morning before the race.  The thought of not following through definitely crept up many times.

We have critics.  We have people with different ideas, and others that may not share our vision.  Not only that, we have an Enemy that is against our goal to help others take steps with God.  We have opposition, and this is going to be tough.  But stick it out!

Move at a sustainable pace.
During my training, I knew that I could run at a 9:00 minute a mile pace and sustain it.  I started slower than I thought, and worked to make up lost time.  I ran a 7:00 minute mile! It felt great- but I quickly realized that I would burn out at that pace before the race finished.

In leadership, we may be running at a pace that is unsustainable.  We may be able to accomplish more things in the short term and feel great (I felt really good about the 7 minute mile), but if we aren’t honest- we will burn out much faster than we are supposed to.  Move at the sustainable pace- you will accomplish more that way.

We must rest to race at our best.
My training called for a week and a half “taper” where I did a few light runs and rested from regular exercise.  I was told that this will help my body be in optimal shape before the race.  It was tough- I wanted to run the week during the race to make sure I “still had it.”  However, I simply trusted in my training and made it through.

I think about our ministry’s big events- mission trips, camps, and retreats.  Not to mention every weekend is BIG.  What if we trusted in our preparation before our big day in order to be at our best before the big day? What if we planned out our rest time before- so that we will be at our best when we need to be.  I need to be at my best for my students every Sunday, and I need to be at my best on our big events of the year- because this is an optimal time to help them take steps with God.  I can’t help but wonder if I had more of purposeful rest before hand that will allow me to be at my best.

Finally, it is best to celebrate with friends.
I loved knowing that my wife and two great friends were waiting at the finish line as I finished the race. Even though I was in pain, it was great to share the journey with them and grab a meal afterwards.  It made the experience better.  Before moving onto what’s next- take time to celebrate what you accomplished.

Tyler Volkers is the Student and Elementary Pastor at The Ridge Community Church in Greenfield, WI.  You can follow him on Twitter at @tylervolkers.

See You in 7

 —  March 30, 2012 — 4 Comments

I close each youth service with the phrase “See you in 7.” It reminds kids that our ministry is here every week for whatever they need and also lets them know I’m inviting, even expecting, them to make church part of their life and routine. Yet it’s also a sometimes-painful reminder to me that another service is right around the corner, no matter how this one turned out.

Creating a compelling youth service or meeting every week can feel weighty. Just as you collapse to recover from one, you have to prepare to do it all again. My team has been discussing a new strategy to get things accomplished with such short turnaround. Our services are on Saturdays and Sundays, so you may have to adjust the days below to fit your program.

“See you in 7″ falls from my smiling mouth to my ringing ears each week. But with the right preparation and goals, it’s an achievable task.

Delegate —What tasks do you need to dole out to ensure success? For that matter, what are you even doing next week? Make sure all the projects, videos, music, humor, and handouts have an owner; then be confident that people will follow through. Ideally, list program elements on a whiteboard so a few volunteers can start moving on their assignments. For me, as the primary communicator, Tuesday is an important day to get a jump-start on message preparation, too.


Do—This is the day to really accomplish things. Shoot the video. Buy prizes. Test out games. Whatever needs to happen for the weekend, do it on Wednesday. As I write this, a student is preparing a testimony to share, a volunteer is editing video, and my sermon draft is halfway complete.

Done—Today it all comes together. The student outline is finished, slides are made, videos are selected, handouts are copied, and anything that was ordered is ready to go. By the end of Thursday, the sermon is largely done and in the hands of a few trusted friends for review.


Dream—You must make space for greatness and creativity, so force yourself to finish things early instead of succumbing to the uncontrollable chaos of last-minute details. That cushion also allows you to work ahead a bit and be intentional about relational ministry.

Originally appeared in the November/December issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!