The One Thing

Yesterday, in an impromptu meeting with a few key leaders of the church, Pastor Rick mentioned the importance of 'The One Thing'. The one thing is the ONE single most important thing that you are responsible for in your role. It's the ONE thing that matters more than anything else and it's the ONE thing that nobody else can do for your ministry...the one thing that you and you alone must do.

I'm really wrestling with that. what is the ONE thing a youth pastor must do? And is it the same ONE thing for every youth pastor?

- Is it teaching/preaching at the youth group meeting?
- Is it equipping adult leaders?
- Is it casting the vision?
- Is it ministering to parents?
- Is it different in different seasons of life and ministry?

What is the ONE thing?


Doug Jones said...

A great question posed by your pastor - one that more folks need to spend more time considering - given that too often we allow the things we are mediocre at to become time wasters, stealing from what we alone can do exceedingly well... allowing the mediocre to eclipse our strength.

As to your thoughtful questions - I think the "one thing" that we alone can offer our ministries is something that emerges and possibly changes (or becomes more focused/specialized) through our life stages. I think our "one thing" is unique to our life stage, temperment, passion, and gifting. I do not believe this is something that is the same "one thing" for all youth pastors. I think if we identify our one thing - it helps prioritize the kinds of folks we need to surround ourselves with so that we can focus on our ONE THING (not solely - but give it more time and focus so that we do that with excellence).

mark said...

At first I wanted to say equipper... then I thought about it.

The One thing a youth pastor can do is be fully themselves before God and others. I suppose that's the nature of being a pastor.

Kurt Johnston said...

Doug....would you be willing to share your current lifestage and what you would consider your ONE thing currently. How has it changed for you?

Mark...I hear you, but how does that translate tangibly into ONE area of focus for your ministry?

brandonearly said...

"The One Thing?" I guess for me it's getting up in the morning and choosing Christ. Meaning that I make him the center of everything I do...if that is not happening then those things Kurt listed become about my performance. "The One Thing" I need to do is stay healthy and God defines health.

mark said...

It's an interesting thing isn't it. I mean the church is often the place where youth pastors are often expected to do "every" thing, not "one" thing.

I think the way most youth ministries (read: churches) are set up make it very difficult, if not impossible to be fully themselves before God and others. If I don't have outside expectations pressing me to do all things for all people, then I am very capable of creating them myself.

I lead a ministry that supports youth pastors, pastors and church leaders so my experience is a bit different, but I'll give it as well.

Kurt, Here's how it fleshes out in youth ministry.

Organizationally youth ministries must no matter how big or small must rest on the shoulders of the congregation, not the staff. Until this takes place it will be difficult to answer the "one" question how I answered it.

For my situation, I have the opportunity to organize around what I love and feel gifted in.

I can be myself and not have to be "on" which is very freeing.

Anna - Wash DC area said...

I'm a female volunteer leader (for 8 years plus) and from my perspective, the one thing a youth pastor should focus most on is staying current. By that I mean truly involving yourself with your volunteers so that they're relationally "in sync" with your vision, talking to parents about life, and figuring out ways to spend time with teens and lead them through specific trials. Our main struggle is that we base ministry on what the youth group of 5 years ago was like and sometimes that just doesn't work. I'm coming from a much smaller group, though, so I'm not sure if I'm any help here.

Eric said...

I agree with Doug. The one thing is NOT the same for every pastor/minister. I also do not think that Rick was talking about making Christ the center of your life (otherwise it would be the same for every pastor). I think that having Christ as the center of your life should be a given. Kurt said "The one thing is the ONE single most important thing that you are responsible for in your role." I believe this is different for each pastor/minister and here is why. If I am gifted at being a "hand" in the body of Christ than I need to recognize that and surround myself with "feet", "arms", "legs", etc. I think too often (especially in youth ministry) we try to be the whole body of Christ and end up spreading ourselves too thin. This ends up in poor to mediocre results rather than recognizing our strengths and getting others to be strong in our weak areas - resulting in excellent results (wow what a bad sentence that was but I can't think of another way to word it).
For me I think my "one thing" is teaching/connecting with middle school aged students. I have learned over the years that I am not good at planning events and working out all of the little details, but connecting and caring about the students and what is happening in their lives is a strong point for me (because I connect and care for them I am able to teach them) so I try to focus on that and delegate the planning stuff to others.

Kurt Johnston said...

Doug and Eric have, I think, gotten to the heart of the question. I think the spiritual side of pastoral leadership was a given in Rick's question. He was challenging us to make sure that in addition to our other stuff, we make sure we are doing the ONE, single most important thing that we bring to the table. To be honest, I'm REALLY struggling with the question.

I think my ONE thing may be dictating the overall temperature/culture of our minstry, but I'm not sure how I would quantify that.

Nick said...

Sounds like an Andy Stanley question.

If you haven't read 7 Practices of Effective ministry, I *highly* recommend it.

I don't know what the one thing is.

Doug Jones said...

responding to Kurt's follow up question...

I am 41... entered firmly in mid-life.

I think I am past the stage where I have the energy to stay "current," be "hip" or "relate" to youth...

I do think I have managed the garbage of my life to the point where God is actively involved in the everyday of my life - and I can be me as I am in Christ with kids.

I think this is the one thing - to stay in touch with Christ at work in me - period. This ONE thing then enables me to enter a student's or a volunteer youth worker's world and give of myself fully - whether that is a listening ear, an appropriate answer to the heart of a question, the encouragement of how I am seeing Christ formed in them, etc.

I think for me the One thing is my life in Christ and it comes out as I fulfill my role as primary communicator in our student ministry - It is being transparent and authentic about the walk I am on with Christ.

mark said...

i think i'm trying to say what
Doug is saying. :-)

jon said...

the one thing... like curly from city slickers.

we had the same question asked to us at our recent staff retreat, but it was worded as "what's a win?" same concept.

it took me a while to come up with my answer... salvations, numbers, successful events, worshippers... what is it. i came across this answer and it encompasses all those.


to me there is are few things that bring me more satisfaction than to see students i've been involved with now doing what i did for them, ministering to others. seeing one of "my kids" a college/career pastor and another one of "mine" as a worship leader others youth pastors. it makes me know how it feels to be a proud parent who's kid just hit the game winner with no time left on the clock.

for me duplicating my students back into the ministry is my "one thing"... that's my "win." cause not only will they collectively reach WAY more than i ever would alone but the real power in duplication is that it's something that will live on long after i'm gone.

Kristi said...

ONE THING! AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't imagine condensing it down to one thing! All of it seems to have it's importance and you can't really do without some of it...

But maybe the importance of knowing your "One Thing" is so that you can acitivley seek to get other people plugged into their "One Thing" that is different from your "One THing" and then you can focus on your thing instead of everything! I dunno!

Still seems hard to wrap my Adhd brain around it!

Johan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johan said...

I have just 6 month as youth pastor in Costa Rica, Central America. I´m not a FTP (Full Time Pastor).
I think we can say that there are two types of ONE THING.
Type1: General ONE THING
It consists on be the man or woman of GOD instead of just doing God's job. It means be healthy, be a servant.
Type2: Specific ONE THING
Depends of the circumstances, but I think that live and teach the vision; and develop other leaders should be the option for most of youth pastors