By Steven Ackley
An important part of young adult ministry in the local church is navigating the tension between a strong, healthy, and vibrant ministry and siloing the ministry. Sometimes, young adult ministries seem to be thriving numerically, but there is isolationism and it lacks alignment with the church’s priorities or other ministries. Here are ways to ensure your young adult ministry is aligned with your church.
The Importance of Ministry Alignment
The local church is a means to a greater end: fulfilling the Great Commission and Great Commandment. Aligning your young adult ministry with other ministries displays a unity that communicates truth about who God is. When ministries are aligned, it communicates the oneness of God and the oneness of His people.
In addition, the local church has greater power to fulfill this mission when all the pieces are firing in the same direction. If one ministry is aiming one direction and your young adult ministry is aiming in a different direction, there is far less impact in either direction.
Another reason why alignment is important is for your own good. It may seem silly, but the reality is that ministry is far more enjoyable when it’s done with others. For example, if you are a staff member, your days in the office will be far more fun and collaborative when you are dreaming together how to accomplish the same thing. If you are a lay leader, you will find greater satisfaction in the success of other ministries if you are aiming for the same things.
How Do You Create Alignment?
Alignment begins under the umbrella of your church’s vision. In the church I serve, our mission is to “help people find life in Christ and live sent in the world.” We contextualize this for young adults: “we aim to reach, develop, and deploy young adults to find life in Christ and live sent in the world.”
Guardrails also ensure alignment. Guardrails flow out of the big picture direction and are the ditches that we commit to avoid as a church. These things may be theological or methodological. If every ministry stays within those guardrails, ministry alignment is far more likely.
You may also create alignment by involving leadership in the assessment process of your young adult ministry. This isn’t a micromanager. The idea is a system of checks and balances from someone who sees ministries at a 30,000-foot level. In my church, I ensure alignment with ministries from birth through young adults. In some churches, this may be the role of an executive pastor or even the senior pastor. Whoever the role belongs to, designate someone to oversee ministry alignment.
Shared language also creates alignment. Agree on the meaning of common words in your church culture. These words may include discipleship, worship, teaching, growth, health, leader, and others. Shared language helps ensure and display alignment of ministries.
Aligning your young adult ministry with other ministries of your church will be helpful as you reach, develop, and deploy young adults for the mission of God and the growth of the local church. Take the necessary steps to align your ministry with the general vision of your church and work together to accomplish these purposes.
Steven Ackley, his wife Emily, and their four kids live out their love for anything sports and Cookout milkshakes in Murfreesboro, TN where Steven serves as the NextGen and College Pastor at LifePoint Church. Steven holds a D.Min. and an MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.