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The clock is ticking, the time is approaching, the students are coming and you still have not settled on what you are going to teach tonight. If you say, “I never did that,” then either you are not really in youth ministry or you are being delusional is a comfortable state of mind.

At some point in our ministries, all of us have delivered a sermon or study on “a wing and a prayer.” Some of them actually turned out okay, which is a bad thing because it deludes us into believing that this might be a great strategy. However, more often we leave the event deflated because we know we had limited impact.

We often prepare our messages/lessons and throw up a quick prayer asking for God’s blessing. I want to suggest that the better approach is to prepare our lives first then prepare our messages. Messages/lessons should be an extension or our lives demonstrated by personal example.

Consider these questions as you think about imprinting the lives of your students.

  • What is the message of your life?
  • Have you prepared your life properly for developing disciples?
  • What do you want your students to know before they graduate?
  • What doctrines, topics or general information will equip them for life?
  • How can you help students make application of the Word?
  • How can you help students engage the lost with the truth about Jesus?
  • Are the students important enough to deserve a long-range plan?
  • Have you ever developed a scope and sequence for your ministry?

Imprinting the lives of students with the marks of Christ will not happen by chance; it requires intentional ministry. I want to suggest that you begin by developing a scope and sequence for your ministry. There are three words to consider when determining this operating system.

  1. Strategy – The art of directing movements and operations. This is the overall operating system for your ministry, the irreducible minimums.
  2. Plan – The method of acting, doing or proceeding. This is the defining of individual steps to accomplish your principles.
  3. Goal – The result toward which effort is directed. This is what you envision the students looking and living like, who are products of your ministry.

The leader who has a strategy, plan and goal for ministry will not live in “panic mode.” Yes, there may be the occasional last minute preparation, but this will become the exception, not the norm. This philosophy of student ministry will help as you “cultivate students of influence.”

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