Ministry leaders—Stop guessing and start achieving your goals

Jake Mulder Image Jake Mulder | Aug 14, 2019

Photo by Tim Graf

“Our church knows exactly where we’re headed and the next steps that will get us there!”

This recent comment from a leader in a small 100-year-old congregation was music to my ears. As a researcher, author, coach, and FYI’s Senior Director of Strategy, this is what I hope for every leader, team, and congregation with whom I interact.

Could you make that same statement about your church with confidence?

Gain clarity and alignment for your ministry

The ability to make the statement above flows from having both clarity and alignment. For ministry leaders, it’s important to discern the direction the Holy Spirit is leading, and be able to align people to move in that direction.

As you kick off a new year, do you have clarity about where you’re headed? In other words, if a colleague walked into your office and asked “What do you hope will happen in the lives of your teenagers this year? And what are you doing to ensure that happens?” could you give a good answer?

And if you know where you’re headed, would you say your programming, volunteers, and schedule are well aligned to take you that direction? In other words, if that same colleague went on to ask, “Do your volunteers know your ministry goals and how they’re supposed to support those goals? How are you helping adults throughout the congregation develop empathy for and invest in young people?” what would you say?

In my experience with hundreds of churches and leaders of various sizes, denominations, cultures, and locations, it’s rare to find a church or leader who has both clarity and alignment. With the demands of managing your yearlong program of teaching and activities, communicating with that parent or volunteer who just won’t check their email, and walking with your young people through the ups and downs of adolescence, opportunities to stop and reflect can be few and far between.

Tweet this: “What do you hope will happen in the lives of your teenagers this year? And what are you doing to ensure that happens?”

We’re here to help you take your next step

The challenges of finding clarity and alignment in ministry are why I’m so passionate about our work at the Fuller Youth Institute. We turn academic research into practical resources, equipping diverse leaders and parents (like you!) so faithful young people can change our world. We want to help you cut through all of the noise, confusion, and busyness of everyday ministry to focus on what matters most.

To discover clarity and alignment.

I wish FYI’s resources and training had been around when I got my start in youth ministry over fifteen years ago. It would have saved me a lot of time and headache. Most importantly, I believe the ministry I led would have formed more young people to be more like Christ.

As you get your ministry year started, I want to save you time and potential headache. Here are three of our ministry leadership tools that can help you achieve your most important goals this year.

The Growing Young Assessment

Chances are your ministry is really strong in a few areas, but not as strong in other areas. Do you know which is which?

Sometimes the greatest threat to your ministry leadership is that you think your ministry is strong in areas where it’s weak … or vice versa. But how do you know? Leaders like you asked us for help with this problem so often that we developed a groundbreaking tool to help you find answers.

We’ve designed the Growing Young Assessment as an academically-validated survey tool that provides vital insights about your church’s effectiveness with young people. Based on the 6 core commitments discovered in our Growing Young research, this assessment will highlight both strengths and growth areas based on data collected from you, your team, or your entire congregation.

Recently I worked with a youth ministry team that was convinced they needed a better small group curriculum and more dynamic games. By taking the assessment, they learned that their volunteers don’t necessarily need better curriculum resources. Instead, they need to develop deeper empathy and understanding for the teenagers in their ministry. This church revamped their training for the year based on these newfound insights. They’re becoming more effective in their mission to disciple teenagers because they’re focusing their hard work in the right place.

That’s just one example of the clarity and alignment ministry teams and whole churches are finding based on this assessment. Consider using it this month with a ministry team or perhaps your whole church. This tool can help you stop guessing and accurately define reality for your ministry.

Leader Coaching and Whole Church Consulting

Implementing an idea or two from FYI’s Sticky Faith, Growing Young, or Growing With resources is easy. You can look for small wins every week, such as giving the keys to a teenager to lead an activity or sending a text to encourage a parent.

But if you want to develop long-term strategies to strengthen your church’s ministry with young people … consider getting someone else on your team.

You can jumpstart your efforts with guidance and support from an experienced Fuller Youth Institute coach, who will take time to understand you and your church’s unique culture and will come alongside you through three (or more) personalized phone or video calls. Find out more about FYI coaching for leaders here.

Perhaps you’re a senior leader in your church and you recognize the need for long-term, full-scale culture change across your overall congregation. Through time onsite at your church, ongoing coaching and training, and development of a long-term plan, our team can guide you through changes that breathe life into your whole church. Consider enlisting our consulting team for premier customized support. More information about whole church coaching is available here.

The Growing Young Cohort

Our year-long, comprehensive church training model gives you and your team the chance to connect and think about what growing young actually means for your church.

This unique training opportunity walks hand-in-hand with your team, engaging with our Growing Young research to help inform and transform your ministry. As members of a cohort you’ll attend two in-person summits at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena and grow in community with fellow cohort churches, while our researchers and coaches encourage and equip you through monthly training webinars. You’ll also receive a full year of personalized coaching and access to our comprehensive diagnostic assessments. Ask a question or learn more about our Growing Young Cohort here.

Your work matters

Think back to your answers to the questions about clarity and alignment above. Whether you’re on the right track heading into this ministry year or feel like your ministry could use a tune-up or major overhaul—know that we’re on your team and we’re rooting for you! We believe in you and your calling to serve young people so they can be changed by Christ and change our world.

Your work matters greatly. We’re ready to help you reach your ministry goals this year.

Want to learn more about joining our next Growing Young Cohort?

Let our expert training lead your church forward to engage young people like never before.


Jake Mulder Image
Jake Mulder

Jake Mulder is the Senior Director of Strategy at the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and Fuller's Executive Director of Leadership Formation Division. As Senior Director of Strategy at FYI, he oversees business administration, coordinates new research, develops resources and trainings, and helps the team think strategically. Jake holds a BA in Business Administration in Finance from Western Michigan University, an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is currently pursuing a PhD at Fuller. Passionate about helping individuals and organizations achieve their full potential, he is the coauthor of Growing Young. Prior to joining the FYI team, Jake worked in a variety of ministry and professional roles, including as a Financial Analyst, Youth Pastor in the Reformed Church of America, Ministry Director with Youth for Christ, and missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Europe and Asia. Jake and his family live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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