There's no place like home.
Whether you're a nomad living in a yurt on the steppes of central Asia, a college student making the best of your dorm room, or a youth pastor living in a cardboard box (because we're all broke), there is nothing like the feeling of coming home.
Does the place in which you lead feel like a home to your followers?
It was over 5 years ago when I was on the receiving end of a phone interview with my current Lead Pastor when he asked me the million dollar question:
"What will be the 3 defining factors of your ministry if you are hired to be our Student Ministries Pastor?"
Immediately I got all spiritual. The first things that came to my mind were first-time salvations, water baptisms, Holy Spirit baptisms, numbers, and discipleship groups. As I was about to open my mouth and blow his mind with my spirituality, God checked my heart. Shouldn't all those things I first thought of be a "given," and not the defining factors in a ministry? Isn't it a given that a church ministry should experience all those things? The answer is yes, they are givens, and yet so many leaders define the success of their ministries by these factors alone and miss out on the opportunity to create the atmospheres that allow these things to happen in greater measures. So what are the atmospheres I'm talking about? The kind of atmospheres that don't bring your people into an organization, but a home.
Each week, when we welcome students into The Element, our student ministry, we use phrases like, "regardless of the family you're a part of or the home you come from, tonight, we are your family and this place is your home. Welcome home. You belong here."
That said, these are the three factors I ended up detailing to my soon-to-be boss:
If there's anything that wins the day, it's consistency. Consistency creates the safe structure necessary to grow in an environment that looks and feels like a healthy home. When your people show up to your church, your ministry event, or to a 1-on-1 appointment with you, do they feel comfortable because you have been a consistent factor in their lives, or do they feel on edge and distrusting? A consistent home is a place where trust and openness rule the day.
This one is big. Your ministry may be the most stable place
many of your people are a part of each week. Their homes, workplaces, and
relationships may not be stable, but your ministry and your model of
leadership MUST be stable. A leader must conscientiously create this
environment every week; even to the point that it becomes a culture. Stability is like reinforcing a ship before
the storms of life hit.
No one will get on a ship that looks like it's about to sink.Give your people security by creating a culture of stability.
Sometimes, a person can go through their entire week and not feel validated by another person. People need to be valued in your ministry, and more than that, they need to hear that you value them. A person cannot grow if they do not know who they are. By validating them as the people God created them to be, they will begin to believe what God says about them through His Word and will in turn grow in the process.