I was shaped and molded into the Pastor I am today at Liberty University, maybe you we’re, too. Liberty gets put under a lot of scrutiny for many different things, but if you ask most of the students, at least from my time, one of the biggest complains actually had to do with long-term planning. Though you would rarely hear someone actually use this term in their complaint, it was the root of most issues students had. As Liberty grew and grew and grew, they would just build whatever building they needed next in the most convenient spot. Now, they have capped the growth to plan better, but there still have been something like 4 master plans for growth in the last 8 years, and all of them work to undo something that could have been avoided had they thought ahead.
Often times in Youth Ministry, we similarly make decisions based on whats needed now and what’s most convenient.
A few years ago, God opened my eyes to one of my own greatest struggles as a young Youth Pastor fresh out of college: Short Sightedness. Growing up, we really do live in almost 4 year cycles, elementary school, middle school/Jr. High, High School, College. I believe this leads many Young Leaders, including myself, to fail to think in the long term. We set up visions and plans and come up with ideas, but subconsciously, we assume or expect that whatever we set out to accomplish will come to fruition within four years.
I’ve said it before, on this site and past blogs, and I still hold it as true, that one of the biggest problems with Young Youth Pastors is that we struggle to think in the Long Term. It’s not natural for us to sit down, make a ministry plan that really goes through and says “What can I do this year to set up the Youth Ministry for Health 5 years from now, 10 years from now, and so on.”
I believe that if you want to be able to Lead up, you’ve got to be able to plan long term. Show your Sr. Pastor and Elder’s that you’re not just a responsive leader, but one with a well thought out vision and plan. Keeping in mind the last post about spending relational change too soon, I’d say that shouldn’t be your first act on the job, but at some point around the 1 year mark, lay out what you want to see happen years down the road, and how you’re going to get there.