Every student ministry has a culture. What you promote, communicate, and fund with our budget speaks loudly about our culture. Growing a sending student ministry starts with the culture you are creating. I think if you were to ask some of our students here at Summit, they would most likely tell you that one of the things we put a high value on (the culture we’re trying to create) would be sending them on mission both locally and globally. In fact, our mission statement in our Family Ministries is to “Partner with Families in raising up a generation that will love Christ and his mission.”
I think it’s incredibly important that you know that sending is not our main goal. It is a goal we put a huge emphasis on, but it’s not the lone ranger. We are passionate about reaching those far from Christ and helping our church love Christ more and more each day. If we don’t do those things well, we can’t send students on mission with the gospel. Don’t lose sight of that important truth as you look to develop a sending culture in our ministry!
It’s important to note that the culture of sending has been created over many years. You need to hear this; it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes times. So, as you strive to to create a culture of sending in your ministry, remember to be patient!
A few thoughts:
- Your language says it all: What you say and how you say it communicates more than you realize. We put the sending language in our vocabulary early on. Even with our small groups in student ministry, we don’t “split” existing groups to create a new group. That’s right, you guessed it…we plant new groups. Those two words communicate a much different vision. Evaluate the things you are doing in your ministry and begin asking yourself how you can change the language to communicate a passion for sending.
- It starts at the top: If you, as a leader, are not living on mission and are only talking about it, it’s not going to happen. It’s all ideas in your head. Start in your neighborhood, your areas of investment in your community (sports teams, PTA’s, HOA’s, etc.). I think a good question we all need to ask ourselves is “How am I embodying the mission of God in my life?”
- Decentralize the mission: In order to create the culture of sending in your ministry, you can’t be the only one to own the vision. Your entire leadership has to get on board! Getting your leadership on board means spending time with them, letting them lead ministry opportunities and not merely chaperone them, etc.. When your leadership team catches the vision, it begins to trickle down from there.
We’re on the brink of seeing some great things happen in regards to the Great Commission. I’m excited to see how God uses your students to play their part.