#2: philosophy matters. In my first few years of student ministry, I quickly learned that the philosophy of a church ministry matters. In student ministry, we are under the authority of a church. Some view their students as a "mini church" but I believe that we need to be heading the same direction as the overall vision of the church. Now, it does not mean that we agree on every detail, but we cannot disagree upon why we do what we do in ministry. Many times, student pastors are looking for a place to serve and do not ask the right questions to find out the churches overall ministry philosophy. In conversations with a lot of my friends in student ministry, many have unreasonable expectations to live up to because of the churches philosophy of ministry. Philosophy of ministry is basically, why you do what you do and how you do it. I'm not talking about what you do (the mission and vision). It is looking at the heart motive of why we do ministry.
Why is philosophy important? Because you will have clarity! You will not bounce around to whatever is the new "hype" in ministry. If you view ministry through the lens of building relationships but you are being pressured about attendance, it is a question of philosophy. Yes, it is true that numbers represent people. But if our overall goal is to grow bigger, then having a "keg" party will definitely grow attendance right? I know that is an a bad example, but think about it. If the churches end goal is to fill up seats, then they are building attenders and not disciples. Why do I say this? The modern church movement has created a sub-culture of leaders and attenders who will do whatever it takes to limit commitment and make people comfortable (Read Luke 9:23).
Philosophy matters! If you haven't realized it, many churches have different ideas of what success is in ministry. This is all stems from "why" and "how" question of ministry.
A few questions to ask to discover a ministries philosophy:
- What is the vision of the church?
- Why do we have the student ministry at this church?
- What are your expectations of me as a student pastor?
- What does a mature, disciple of Christ look like?
- Does numbers represent growth alone or is there more to it?
- What is your theological view of salvation?
- What is your leadership style?
- What are your personality characteristics and attributes?
- How do you view a student minister? (Pastoral staff, activities director, etc)
- What frustrations have you had with past youth ministers?
- What are the expectations for my spouse?
What questions would you add to discover the "why" and "how" behind the ministry?