The importance of strategic thinking for youth leaders

There has been a lot of thinking re strategy in terms of working wth, engaging with young people recently, particularly due to the nature of the work. Not knowing how many young people you are going to have on a weekly basis, or who is going to stick around post schools nd so on. So the question was posed about strategic thinking, due to its difficulties.

There are some good reasons for strategic thinking, and here are just a few:

1: gathering team: yes this is a lot to do with vision, but it also includes strategy, as a team is vital to see the vision come into fruition. Different people will play different parts along the journey of the strategy, and offer different gifting, some of which, maybe all of which will be useful to help see the vision come into fruition. Team also helps bring the creativity that is definitely required, but the reality is that most people are unlikely to join a team if they don’t see a vision, or a framework of strategy of how the vision will come into fruition. There needs to be a plan of some description for people to see how they can play their part in enabling the strategy to be worked out.

2: direction: linked to the gathering of team, people need to have an idea of direction. strategic thinking can and should bring some direction to where people are heading. In regard to youth discipleship, there are steps to seeing the depth of growth in the discipleship of young people, plus also a growth in the number of young people who are going to be involved. Strategic thinking leads to growth.

3: growth: Often regarded as a bad word in relation to discipleship for some reason. Peoples person growth is important yes, but so is the growth of sphere of influence, impact, and people engaging with what is going on. Strategic thinking should lead to growth, otherwise things remain as they are, and that small grouping remains that small grouping, which is not lined up to a God who is moving in peoples lives, and a kingdom that is at hand for all.

4: people joining in: This is partly linked the gathering team, but it also enables others to get involved, and play their part in what is going on. young people are more likely to join in, invite others to join in, if they know where things are heading, and know that it isn’t just going to stay static. to invite others to be part of something there needs to be an understanding of what it is people are being invited too, and where the journey is heading.

These are just some initial thoughts re strategy and work with young people. there will undoubtedly be more.

” would never”

Over the weekend there were a number of marches in America about the gun laws, particularly in response to the recent shooting in Florida. Listening to one of the young people speaking, the phrase she used about all 14 who were killed on that day, was ” Would never”!!! there were a number of things that she listed that the 14 who had been killed would never do again, and it was so powerful.

The reality of “would never”, for each of the people killed is a tough reminder about life, the life we are given, the life we have to live, the life that lies before us. But there was also something powerful about how those people were remembered!

What is it that people would remember us for? What is it that they would say we “would never” again? What is it about how we act, how we speak, how we engage, how we support or criticise?

The things that were listed for many of the young people who had been killed were fun, even dee friendship things, and yes even some funny silly, superficial things, but they all mattered. The person we are matters, the person we are around others, as well as the person in the quiet matters. So how are we around others? How are we likely to be remembered?

This young girl, Emma i believe her name was, aged 17 I believe, i might be wrong, so powerful, so strong. yes in the context of the gun crimes in the States, but also in the memory, the memory of friends, of those who had been killed, the powerful memory of life, the difference that those people around her had made, those people who will not be around her any more.

Jesus may not be present with us, as he was with the Disciples, but his memory lives on! how he was around people, how he was when he spoke and acted. these testimonies live on. the stories that have been told about him, all powerful, in how he has been remembered, and influential in lives since.

people will remember you for all sorts of things. On a number of occasions recently, I have been approached by young people who have seen me in school, heard what I have had to say, and come up and thanked me, they have told me they remember what I said, and the difference it made to them, and their lives. This is an honour, a privilege, and it reminds me of the power of Gods spirit working through us when we are open to him.

to make that lasting difference, that people will remember, in a positive, Godly manner, we need to be open to the spirit, his guidance, and be aware of the doors that god our father opens for us.

I don’t know about you, but when I pass away, if people ever use that phrase, “would never”, about me, I hope it is a positive, encouraging memory, that i have made a difference, positive difference in peoples lives.

Fullness of life without Jesus?

In John 10.10, Jesus said, that a thief comes to steal, but he comes to bring life in all its fullness. So What does a full life look like? Can there be a full life without Jesus? Could it be that something is missing if we do not have, and include what Jesus wants to bring to us? In one of their songs from about 20 Years ago, U2 used the phrase, ” Looking for a fill, that God shaped hole “, from their Pop album. As we are all created in Gods image, do we look to the fullness that Jesus offers that he can give, or do we look to fill that god shaped hole in other ways? And what is it that we offer others around us?

There is so much in our culture today, so many things that people can fill their lives with, but how much do we give room for Jesus and what he wants to bring to our lives.

Valuing young people is vital, important, absolutely right, but where do they get that sense of value from? Us? themselves? people around them? Or do we point them, help them see God who values them even more, and wants to bring ” life in all its fullness”, for them?

resources that bring value, worth, identity are all great, but without all that God has for them, there is still something missing in the resources.

Do we ourselves, know what it means to receive the fullness of life that Jesus was offering to us? Because it is only when we start to get a grip of that, that we have something really worth offering to other people. yes we can find part of that in ourselves, in people around us, but the God shaped hoel, is only filled by what God brings to us, and we have to come to him to receive it. Lets not sell young people short, we need to offer them everything, and that has to include the fullness of life that Jesus offers, without offering that, there will always be that Godshaped hole.