The Teen Decade, Youth Ministry Success: Organization or Providence?

In youth ministry (or any organizational endeavor), what is the relationship between preparation and success? Is there a connection between administration and blessing? What is the relationship of Organization and Providence?

Some people are the organizational guru who create systems for high achievement. Other people are the relational guru who create the environment for high achievement. And then God is the providential guru who makes it all happen. We need all of these in youth ministry. Organizational, relational, and providential effort.

In Mark 6, Jesus was teaching a multitude of people who had gathered to listen to Him for hours. In the middle of the day they began to be hungry. What He said to them has never been forgotten. He used an interesting choice of words by saying to them all, be seated “in companies of 50”. 

What happened next is arguably one of the greatest moments in the bible. It may have taken an hour or so, but, upwards of 5,000 people were organized on that hillside in small groups and then fed with the lunch of a young boy. We can look into all of the ways it might have happened. But, one thing is for sure. Jesus knew that it was going to take structure and the gift of administration for this to happen.

I have learned that sometimes God only needs a simple plan to do His most difficult work. We must be that plan or come up with one. We must develop the gift of administration and organization and see how it sets us up for God to do something significant. Spiritual leaders must consider the kind of structures/systems it takes to see ministry success. Having worked in the church, and now in education, I have seen that there are many principles missing that could bring a blessing. 

One book that has impacted me in this area is Jim Collins’ text Good to Great. The pages of this book are filled with concepts of organizational excellence that could be applied to youth ministry in our culture today. Let me give you one of those principles that could take your ministry to the next level.

Fittingly, one of the lessons on the pages of Collins' book is the importance of both character and business traits that can transform a person and a company. One of the things I have seen in ministry over the years is the close connection between character and administration. The heart and the hand is implicit in ministry. Let me explain it this way. It was said of King David that he guided Israel with the integrity of his heart and the skillfulness of his hands. Two things. Both the heart and the hand had everything to do with how he led. God blessed him because he was righteousness and because he was talented. (Psalm 78.70-72)

THE HEART - Integrity and Grace
THE HANDS - Skill-sets and Giftings

It is when youth ministry is done with the PRINCIPLES of the heart are applied through the APPLICATIONS of the hands that we see God's blessings. When a person or an organization holds tightly to both of these, we see personal and organizational success. As Collins states in Good To Great, “under the right conditions, the problems of commitment, alignment, motivation, and change, largely take care of themselves.” 

When it comes to spiritual leadership, the right conditions are set by giving God something to work with. Take the time to organize and think through administration of your personal life and your youth ministry. You will see the effects of "seating people in companies of fifty."