I’ve heard it said that a ministry without infrastructure is like a body without a skeleton…it’s just a 6 inch puddle of skin, fat and unusable muscles. Your skin can be beautiful on the outside and your muscles can be strong on the inside but they’re both completely useless without a skeleton to help them stand up. Furthermore, you can only grow as tall as the bones in your skeleton will allow you. If your skeleton is 5’8″. You won’t grow any taller than 5’8″.

Ministry infrastructure includes the consistently tended to network of small group leaders and teachers who invest in kids’ lives. The program (volunteer or paid) staff who can take care of the office administration, coordination of trips and activities releasing you for pastoral ministry and leadership development. It includes the system of follow-up with new kids that allows you to improve retention. And it includes the methods of communication you employ to make sure no parent is left in the dark about what’s happening.

Ministry infrastructure includes the year-long calendar of major events and details that allows families to plan ahead. It includes a well-planned curriculum scope and cycle that allows you to develop and improve on topics, age-appropriate themes, annual rituals, and creativity. And it includes the forms of communicating with your small group leaders and parents about those topics so that both the church and the home can be fully engaged in these discussions with teens.

Ministry infrastructure includes the detailed work of putting together the program schedule for the midweek youth group/service. Communicating with volunteers for stage setup, room setup, creative elements in the service, tech scripts for the production crew, etc.

I’ve had to put a lot of work into infrastructure the last few years and it’s really paid off. We have a great team of people who work really hard to support the ministry of Student Life @ the Covenant. However, I must also admit that it has come at the sacrifice of other things, as well.

During this time of developing better infrastructure, we had to stop going on mission trips (because we all know how time and resource consuming they are). I lost the ability to put much energy into developing our compassion ministries (with the exception of serving at the local soup kitchen 4 times a year and a somewhat annual day of service, we haven’t really done much work in our community). I also lost the ability to spend much time preparing my messages to be as good as they can be. Many weeks I’m only able to spend maybe 1-2 hours on my message (that’s not enough…they usually end up turning out just fine…but it’s not enough for them to be really effective).

But now, I think we’re turning a corner. I feel like I’m able to re-imagine our missions strategy, our compassion ministries, and the effectiveness of my/our messages and discussions. I’ll probably write more about these in later posts because I’m getting pretty excited about them.

There’s just one problem right now…I’m going through the process of ordination in our denomination which means more classwork, reading, papers, and travel that will pull me away from these things again…hmmm…I guess we’ll just have to see how this all works out.

Author: Jim Murphy

Associate Pastor | NextGen Ministries Covenant Church, Bemidji, MN

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