It’s January 3rd, and you know what that means?

We are all making resolutions, setting goals, and becoming productive. Most of the country is losing weight, exercising more and giving up all of their bad habits: For at least a day…maybe two. We are trying new programs and deciding that THIS IS THE YEAR we will stick to our check list.

It is obvious that God is a “planner” when we look at the intricacies of Creation or the number of prophecies fulfilled just at the birth of Christ, not to mention his life, death and resurrection. There are verses about the plans God has for my life, the world and even “planning” the cost of following Jesus. Purpose, vision, plans, and goals are all important, and we use the “fresh start” of a “new year” as a time to look forward. I like order, and the feeling that comes with accomplishing said goals. Yet, as I have been praying lately, I have realized something about myself. I can have the tendency to focus on details and specifics when if I am honest those are not my true goals at all.

As I make a list of ways I will develop this year I am REALLY saying:

Maybe there’s a way I can figure out how to be less of a mess this year and a little bit closer to “perfect.”

As I set goals for ways the ministry will grow this year my heart is saying:

If I look successful to the rest of the world maybe someone will finally notice.

As I try to set ideals for ways to be a better spouse, parent & friend I wonder:

Who am I really doing this for: me or them?

As I set ways that I will read my Bible & pray more what I truly am thinking is:

Could there be a way to not have any trials this year?

In short I say I set goals for all the “right” reasons, however, I am really trying to take control.  Here’s the problem with that according to Proverbs alone:

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”  Proverbs 16:2

   “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:21

This life, my kids, my husband, my ministry–none of them are mine. There is only one thing I have: Jesus. So here is where I am starting, and I bring the challenge to you as well.

Can 2014 be the year that we fully belong to the Lord and be HIS alone?

That’s it. Even in this I won’t be the perfect parent, spouse or friend. I will still fall down, make mistakes and have trials. I have no idea if my ministry will “grow” or not in the eyes of anyone else. Yet, I have this sneaking suspicion this could be transformational.  I also suspect that the “other” stuff that I have been thinking about will come into line and those “goals” that I keep trying to set will be accomplished- because I have started and ended with Jesus.

Will I read my Bible, pray, worship, go to church, and serve?  Of course, those are all mechanisms to know Him better. I guess I look to 2014 as a year when I will FINALLY understand completely that being with Jesus far outweighs anything I DO for Him…

What about you?



Values are the ideals or principals that help shape the way in which we live our lives, or in our case, execute our ministry. They protect our ministry. They help us define what is we pursue and what we abandon in order to build our ministry. Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries says this about them, “Values protect a youth ministry from becoming so goal-oriented that it sacrifices the things that matter most.” For a lot of us, this can be a really convicting statement. Whether you have made a conscious decision about what they are or not, you have values. Being ignorant can be dangerous, because your ideals might actually be more harmful than helpful.

Can you clearly define your values? If not, identify them. Think about the things that will keep you from sacrificing the most valuable parts of your ministry. For me, I’m going to start valuing grace. I feel like too often my desire to have a great event, a solid weekend service, or a thriving program keeps me from showing grace to the rest of my team when things don’t go the way we planned. When I start to care more about reaching my goals than the people around me, then I know my priorities are off. Setting grace as a value is a step I want to take towards protecting my ministry.

Spend some time writing down your values. Pray that God reveals to you, what DeVries would call, the values that will keep your ministry from sacrificing the things that matter the most.

Already know your values? Share them below!

Colton [Email||Twitter]

POLL: Goals for 2013

 —  December 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

I was spending a little time today think about some goals I’d like to set for 2013 – and thought I would ask how far along you are in the same. I’m thinking specifically about goals for our youth ministry and goals for me as a husband/father. If you don’t have plans – take some time to make some today – after you vote!


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.


If you’re like most youth workers, just reading that headline probably made you shutter a little bit. Youth workers get uncomfortable talking about money and might even be a little uncomfortable managing it. Besides, economic times are tough, and it seems selfish to ask for a bigger piece of the pie, especially if the pie is getting smaller.

But here’s the thing. If your ministry is healthy and growing, an antiquated budget can absolutely be the thing that limits your growth. Don’t let that happen. It’s time to approach the overseers in their financial tower and ask for a bigger budget. Before you march in there, make sure you have your bases covered.

Explain how a bigger budget will help you to do bigger ministry.
If you’re asking for more money because you want to more easily sustain status quo, you’re doomed before you even begin. Explain how many more students you expect to reach or how many more service projects you’ll be able to complete. Be prepared to be measured on these later.

Demonstrate at least THREE ways you’ve worked to cut costs.
This is likely the first question you’ll be asked. So what have you done to save money in other areas? If you can’t answer this question, you need to start here and not with the budget proposal. You can’t win a bigger budget if you can’t illustrate that you’re trying to be an effective steward.

Make it clear that your new goals are good for the entire church.
The first time I asked for a budget increase, it was so we could continue to build our outreach ministry. Several new students had become part of our program, and two of those students brought their parents on Sunday mornings. After I shared this story, I was no longer asking for a budget increase for myself. Suddenly, it was for the benefit of everyone.

Know the names of the people on the Finance Team.
Rookie mistake. I called a guy Jeff for an entire meeting. His name was John.

Treat your proposal like it’s important because it is.
The first time I wrote a budget proposal, I was a 21-year-old in Business School. My proposal was 17-pages and impeccably formatted with color charts and graphs. I even had one of my professors review the thing for me. I found out years later that no one on the team actually read past the third page. But I got the budget approved because according to either Jeff or John, “If it was that important to you, we figured it should be that important to us.

Saturate the entire process in prayer.
Just because it seems like a business transaction doesn’t mean it’s not a spiritual one. You’re talking about the allocation of the gifts that other people have given unto God, and you’re likely having that conversation with several people who have to make several difficult decisions. A little of God’s wisdom is absolutely necessary.

This entire process can be pretty intimidating, and you’ll likely have more questions. I’ll be happy to engage you in the comments and answer any questions you might have.

Aaron Helman is a youth minister in South Bend, Indiana and the creator of Smarter Youth Ministry. He wants to reduce your frustration so that you can do ministry forever. Join his free email list to get a copy of his Budget Questions Worksheet.

When I was a kid we would watch reruns of Happy Days.  There really isn’t much that I remember about the show with the exception of the Fonz’s power to fix things with a simple nudge, pound or smack.  I’ve tried this method myself.  The dishwasher isn’t working; I kick it.  The car doesn’t sound right; I smack it on the hood.  If I don’t look good in the mirror, I punch it…that one hardly ever works.

In ministry I’m sure there is a whole slew of things that we wish we could just smack, punch and kick (I’m not talking about the teens) and have it start working.  If our systems and structures aren’t running smoothly then ministry just becomes a game of survival.  We need people to show up on time, equipment to run, meetings to end and communication to flow; but, if that’s not happening then neither is our ministry.  So, we look for a quick fix; but, quick isn’t what we always need.  Instead we need to take a simple; yet, thorough approach. And, that starts with:

The 10,000 Foot View – Sometimes we just need to take a step back and look at the whole picture.  When fire fighters approach a burning building, first thing they are told is to take a step back and analyze the entire situation.  Where is the source of the problem?  Where are the trouble areas?  What’s my best approach?  Answer those questions then proceed.

Partnering Up – The tendency is to figure a problem out on our own; however, with only one set of eyes we’re bound to miss something.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us:  Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. If you really want the best outcome to a situation make sure you partner up.

Setting A Timeline – While it’s great to take our time and really analyze a problem, if we wait too long we could discover new consequences from inactivity.  If I have a leaking roof and wait on it too long, it could create more damage if I don’t address it right away.  Just as we set a timeline for our goals, we should do the same with issues we need to address.  Don’t be afraid to lean in, because God is right there with you.

Reviewing And Revisiting – If you figure out a problem on the first go, that’s awesome; however, it is always wise to check twice.  If you are addressing a student’s behavior, follow up and see how they are doing.  If you are trying a new format, review it with your team after a few weeks.  If you’ve cut a program or event, get feedback from people you trust.

Yes, it would be easier to just smack the problem around and have it start working; however, it’s not that easy.  The steps to addressing a problem are simple; however, they take work.  The most important thing we can do is to rely on God to guide us through these situations and give us the persistence and wisdom we need to fix a situation properly.

Have I missed anything?  What steps would you add to address an issue or problem?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more about his blog Marathon Youth Ministry.

You will never arrive.

I know that thought might be frustrating to you. Week after week, year after year, you’re headed toward some goal, and it is a goal you will never reach. In our calling, you’ll never reach the finish line. Here’s what I mean:

You put together the best 5-year plan ever created. You put into action a strategy to build your ministry on the eternal purposes of God. You had a moment where God showed you where you should lead your group. So you write it out, you take the first steps. You gain some momentum. Things are going great.

In fact, you’re moving from what started as a dream into seeing it actually happen in your ministry. Lives are being changed. It is going better than you ever dared to dream it might. You’re close to the goal. You can see the finish line.

Then … you realize that the area of your ministry that was so strong last year was starting to drift away from the original vision. What worked like crazy two years ago has plateaued. You lose a key volunteer. Apathy sets in, or spiritual dryness becomes commonplace. The amazing group of seniors graduated and the batch of incoming freshman are … well, freshman.

You may get closer to the goal, but you’ll never really get there. You’re not supposed to. You need to be OK with that fact. Youth ministry is about seasons of success, seasons of failure, busy seasons and busier seasons. Youth ministry is good, bad and ugly all wrapped into one. You will never arrive – God’s church and your leadership will always be a work in progress.

So wherever you are today in this cycle of never quite arriving – setting goals, almost reaching your goals, evaluating where you are at or completely starting over – celebrate! Celebrate that God wants you as part of the process and His church. Celebrate that God wants to use you to reboot, retool, relaunch or redo something.

It all keeps you humble, and those are the best youth ministry leaders. Leaders that never arrive.


Tasha: How have you seen this process unlock God’s plan for your life? Others?

•Zarat: One major change was my commitment to work 6 days and rest 1 day each week. Sabbath rest for the recovering workaholic is a “must-have” plan for restoration and renewal. This has been challenging while caring for a young child with special needs, serving in ministry full-time, operating a business, and “living”, but for me it is like eating and drinking. It has become a non-negotiable for me.

•I have seen people let go and be released into living out who they are created to be

•I have seen been accept the responsibility to streamline and cut out unnecessary things.

•I have seen people give themselves permission to excel.

•I have transformation in their lives.

Tasha: What are the benefits to the process?

•Zarat: Greater awareness and clarity of your giftedness and your life purpose

• The Process culminates in the creation of a working plan–an action plan, a response plan–that will carry you from your new levels of self-discovery to very practical applications in each of the five domains of your life: personal, family, vocation, spiritual, and community.

•You receive a custom-tailored MasterPlan that defines your total-life strategy. It is a charted pathway and a spiritually-guided 2-day process, leading toward your focused LifeMission with detailed, measureable action plans to help you begin to fulfill this mission. All work is done on flip-chart paper in sequential order and later put into electronic form.

Tasha: Why do you think the process is becoming more common?

•Zarat: There is a desperate need for it.

•People hunger for greater focus, productivity, and desire more than just success

I pray this discussion may have answered a few of your questions and sends you on a journey of self discovery. What pathway is God creating with your life? I dare you to discover it! For more information on Life Planning Advanced LifePlan Facilitator: Zarat Y. Boyd www.themaxlifesolution.com — web, Zarat@themaxlifesolution.com — email

Zarat Boyd, a passionate leader, has over 10 years of experience in creating dynamic learning environments for children, teens, young adults, and adult learners through customized sessions, seminars, classes, workshops, and facilitations. She has worked with colleges, elementary schools, city government, church and parachurch organizations, and businesses as well as leaders at levels to assist them in accomplishing their goals. She is the first African American woman certified LifePlan facilitator. She is a professionally trained life coach, certified personality trainer, and strategic planning facilitator. She serves as the Director of the Center for Creative Leadership & Ministry Innovation (CCLMI) at Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church and also serves as the President of MaxLife, Inc. Her educational background includes a BA in International Relations and a MA in Leadership. She and her husband, Damian, live in Marietta, Georgia and are proud parents of their son, an emerging leader.