the values driving my church’s middle school ministry in this season

if you read my blog much, you know i talk and write a lot about leading from values. it’s a central theme in our Youth Ministry Coaching Program.

i define values as the answer to the question: What is God calling us to embody in this season? (and by season, i mean: this chapter of our ministry life together.) values should flow out of mission (Why do we exist?), and lead to strategy (How will we embody our values?) and goals (What are our measurable, actionable plans?).

we teach a process of developing ministry values in our coaching program. and the awesome junior high pastor at my church (where i’m a volunteer) recently graduated from a san diego cohort of YMCP. last fall, we had a fantastic volunteer team retreat, where i got to lead our team in developing values. and recently, we came back together to identify which of our values were the most aspirational (we aspire to embody these, but don’t really do so yet), and to come up with strategy for those.

i was reminded how much i love the values our team came up with. thought i’d share them with you here (not so you can copy them, as the best ministries discern their own values!).

things to note:

  • they’re in no particular order
  • the initial italic words come from our discernment process, and are grouped together from a bunch of value-ish stuff that surfaced.
  • the bold sentence is the actual value.
  • the additional sentence(s) are an unpacking of the value.
  • our JH ministry is called Riptide (which is why you’ll see that all throughout).

Riptide Values

  1. Family/Belonging/Known

Riptide is a family. We will be a place of radical belonging for young teens and for leaders. Every junior higher who walks through our doors will be known and know others.

  1. Questioning/Safety/Honesty

We will be a safe harbor of support and honesty. Questions will be viewed as a cause for celebration rather than a reason for shame or embarrassment. Personal stories will be celebrated and treated with the respect they deserve.

  1. Experiencing God/Jesus

We desperately want junior highers to encounter Jesus. We believe that the best life is one that follows Jesus; and to that end, we want young teens to experience God as a means of cultivating their faith and being transformed. We will be leaders who will manifest our own personal relationships into the ministry and lives of middle schoolers.

  1. Celebrate Uniqueness/Culture of Encouragement

We believe each student and leader is unique and has gifts to offer the world. We will actively develop a Culture of Encouragement, intentionally identifying and nurturing competencies.

  1. Integration with church

Junior Highers should be connected with Journey, not just Riptide. We believe that a long view of faith development means we are compelled to think of junior high as one chapter in a life long faith journey. Because of that, we will work to reduce the isolation of young teens in our church and find meaningful ways to integrate them into the life of the congregation.

  1. Take Risks/Embrace change

Change is constant, and growth requires risk. Riptide cannot stay the same, cannot coast, cannot become complacent. We will consistently evaluate, discern the Holy Spirit’s leading, and experiment with change in order to become everything God has dreamed our ministry could be.

  1. Face outward/Mission/Outreach

We will help junior highers engage their faith outside the Riptide room. We refuse to allow our ministry to become program-centric and only occurring in our room. We will engage the world around us in mission and outreach, both for the formation of our junior highers, and to engage the work of the Kingdom of God.

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