5 Essential Steps to Clarity in Ministry

You won’t just stumble upon it.

Brian Nelson | Jun 29, 2016

A couple of months ago, our team at the Fuller Youth Institute went on a retreat. As an extrovert and verbal processor, I was ecstatic. We have been hard at work preparing to launch our new project Growing Young this September, and time away from our desks was exactly what our team needed.

Like other retreats, ours involved excellent food, diligent prayer, in-depth presentations and laugh-inducing games. We’re a team that thoroughly enjoys time together, and this was no exception.

But the most important takeaway from our retreat came when we discussed the mission and vision of the Fuller Youth Institute.

You see, it is so easy to fall into routine at work: checking off our to-do lists, rushing from one meeting to the next, and discussing the minutiae of our projects. We are passionate. But we can do our jobs the same way day after day, month after month, year after year.

All too often, we miss the forest for the trees.

Vision affects productivity, and we needed to put our heads together again. We needed to reaffirm our purpose and direction. We needed clarity.

That’s where the magic happens. From this clarity proceeds a plan with specific and strategic action steps for every member. We are now moving forward more diligently than ever. When a team stacks hands on a mission, their impact multiplies.

Clarity is the result of a deliberate journey

Finding clarity is not a mysterious process. We do not “stumble upon” it; rather, it is the result of an intentional decision to invest in the single most important asset of any team—our mission.

And it is this strategic, unwavering clarity that we strive for in our Sticky Faith Cohort, an opportunity for church teams across the country to transform their youth and children’s ministries. This yearlong program offers the space, resources, and mentorship for teams to stack hands and reaffirm their vision for ministry.

I’ve been helping facilitate the Sticky Faith Cohort for the past several years. When I ask for feedback, I hear praise for how valuable the content is, but what I hear most is how it helps churches get clear on their priorities in ministry.

What I’ve discovered is that what we offer through the Sticky Faith Cohort are exactly the steps anyone needs to take in order to gain clarity. So whether you are on the brink of a decision, or ready to take your current work to the next level, these are the steps you absolutely have to take.

5 Essential Steps to Clarity in Ministry

1. Time away from your workspace

Where you choose to reflect and gain clarity can make a world of difference. As creatures of habit, we associate certain mindsets with certain spaces; an essential strategy for breaking free of old mindsets is getting a change of scenery. Our FYI team discovered that getting out of the office together for our retreat was nearly as important as the topics we chose to discuss.

We hear time after time from Sticky Faith Cohort teams that traveling to Pasadena for summits helps them be present with one another. They aren’t distracted by their typical routines and are able to focus and connect.

2. Extended discussion with your teammates

When it comes to vision casting, there is hardly anything more frustrating than leaving a conversation unfinished. But if the pace of your office is anything like ours, you likely feel rushed during these types of discussions. Believe me, we do too. And it’s imperative that big-picture conversations are given the time they require to reach understanding and consensus.

During the seminars at the Sticky Faith Cohort summits, we give you time to process the content directly with your team. Leaders are able to gauge the health of their ministries in particular focus areas.

As coaching director Steve Argue says, “We give you time to be real with one another.” Teams often underestimate the degree to which they disagree—and need to realign themselves with a common vision.

3. Insights from leading ministry voices

Determining the purpose and direction of any endeavor—whether a ministry, service, or business—may be doomed to fail if not properly informed by those who have gone before. Consulting with leaders who have done the research, tested the theories, and overcome similar obstacles is a must in order to gain clarity.

Throughout the Sticky Faith Cohort, we surround teams with experts in the research. They process the content with participating teams, offering their insight as discussion unfolds. In the presence of our experts, leaders explore possible implications for their churches in real time. If something seems unclear, it’s as simple as raising their hand or walking up to one of our presenters. Leaders say that the immediate accessibility of experts adds even more value to the experience.

4. A community of likeminded peers

Few leaders are successful today without belonging to a mastermind community: a strategic group with the sole purpose of helping each member focus on goals, successes, and failures. This tightknit tribe is a powerful source of accountability.

One of my favorite things about the Sticky Faith Cohort is that everyone has the same goal: equipping young people with transformative faith. They are thus able to spur each other on through this process of change.

All of the Cohort teams walk in asking, how can we do this better? We provide time for them to process the lessons with other church teams. These team interactions become vital to the process of implementing change.

5. Input from a Coach

Earlier this year my wife and I hired a nutrition coach for six weeks. We had a goal in mind, but knew we needed some outside perspective and someone who would give us the kick in the pants we needed to shift our lifestyle. The wisdom of a mentor can nudge you to the tipping point. They help you gather up all of the knowledge and discovery of the other four steps, and then determine the right course of action for your ministry.

Coaching is a significant part of the Sticky Faith Cohort experience. All of our Sticky Faith coaches are active in ministry and have been through the Cohort themselves. They know the ins and outs of this period of growth, and help you stay committed to the goals you’ve established for your ministry.

Clarity unlocks your ministry potential

You may be able to accomplish your goals without doing much research. You may even be able to minister well with little training. But your work will suffer if you lack clarity, and clarity is only achieved with intention.

If you are a leader who wants to bring your team together around a common vision, I invite you to consider the Sticky Faith Cohort. Take a free three-day tour with us to learn more about what the Cohort entails and how it will lead you toward more dynamic youth ministry.

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Brian Nelson

Brian holds a Bachelors degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Marketing from Loyola Marymount University. Brian manages FYI's ongoing relationships with Cohort churches, plans Sticky Faith events, and develops all marketing and communication initiatives. Outside of FYI, Brian coaches High School Volleyball, performs improv comedy, serves at his church with his wife Christa, and pretty much watches every Dodger game.

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