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!

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A couple weeks back at our State of HSM annual meeting I shared a few things that I believe that make a good team great. Thought I would share them with you as well!

We all share a common, unifying vision in our high school ministry – seeing students on the outside of faith meet Him face to face (evangelism) and their lives be changed forever. And for those that have trusted Christ to be connected (fellowship), grow (discipleship), serve (ministry) and honor (worship) Christ deeper now and into adulthood. The clear vision helps bring a team of like-minded and passionate people together. If someone is out of line, the vision brings them back into the unity of the common vision.

This year our team is going to unify by learning together. We’re going to go to a conference together – the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this March – come hang with us! We’re going to go back to the basics and read Doug Fields’ 1st 2 Years in Youth Ministry together and have some discussions about our experiences and how we can grow together as youth workers. Youth pastors must keep learning and moving forward.

It is so important to laugh together. I want us to play together. Have inside jokes. To dig a deep well of relationship that bond us together and make us quick to forgive and trust when hit with the unexpected.

Dependent on God/Prayer
Your walk with Jesus is critically important. This season we’re all reading the New Testament together. We’re trying to make sure our walk with Jesus is more visible and something we talk about as easily as we would Sherlock Holmes or the new Coldplay album (both of which are excellent by the way). Your walk with Jesus is person, but it is also communal. As a team we need to strive to e


Over the past several years we’ve begun to identify 4 key values that run throughout our entire student ministry. We want these four things to show up in our large group program on the weekend, in our small group program during the week and in all of our events, trips and even one-on-one interactions with students.

Want to know what they are? Glad you asked! Here are our 4, add yours in the comments section of this post, too!

Students have the uncanny ability to sniff out the least bit of inauthenticity. If you’re faking it … they know it. We want our large group time to be filled with failure stories and real-life transparency. We hope that our small groups are hitting on real topics that matter to students and that real-life is being shared in each group. We want students to know that they can “be who they are” without the need to put on a mask, put on a spiritual performance etc.

Our student ministry must be relationally strong. While programs are important, there is nothing better than one-on-one time with students. We want to share in relationships and be personally involved and invested in the life of the students God trusted to us. We value people over programs and do everything we can to constantly provide opportunities for relationships. Note: Relational ministry is easy at first, but as your ministry grows, it becomes tougher. Don’t take relational youth ministry for granted. It doesn’t always happen automatically!

One of the strongest advantages to youth ministry is the ability to relate the timeless truths of God to the teenage life. You’ve probably heard the old saying, “It’s a sin to bore teenagers with the gospel”. Making relevance a key value helps ensure you never commit that particular sin! Being relevant doesn’t mean you have to be super trendy, know the latest Lady Gaga song by heart, or that you keep up with the Kardashians, it simply means you create ministry experiences that are relevant to the life of a teenager. Our ministry must matter to students and hit them where they live their life.

It is our hope that students walk into our youth room and breath a sigh of relief! That their shoulders would drop as the tension is released from their bodies. That the worries and pressures teenage life drop off them, even if only for an hour or two. We want the urgency in our steps, the pace of our conversations and the environment we create to be relaxed and unhurried in every way.

Like we talked about yesterday, you need to know why your ministry exists…that’s why a purposes or vision statement is important. But you also need to know how you want your ministry to “feel”. That’s where values come in!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.