The content for this blog was originally presented by SMAT Leader Stephen Jones during the final session of the 2022 HUDDLE training event in Charlotte, NC. There are four installments in this series. Be sure to check out each one!
I want to prompt your mind for a moment, and share the importance of a strategy. Have you thought deeply about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it?
There’s a philosophical component to starting with a strategy. Jesus commanded His followers (and all of us, too) to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them obey all that I’ve commanded you.”
We know the great commission; that was what He told us to do. What’s our strategy to do it? Have we given serious thought to how we’re going to accomplish what God has called us to do?
What do you mean by a strategy?
I don’t coach a sport, but I do know the most successful football teams don’t get on the field without a plan for getting the ball past the line of scrimmage and into the end zone.
There’s a plan and a coach who’s setting the plan and there’s a team that’s executing the plan—they don’t just file onto the field and figure it out when they get there. The winning teams are starting with a strategy.
A strategy plots the best line from where we are to where we’re going.
Now, as it relates to sports, we have to acknowledge our analogies eventually fall apart when it comes to ministry. The best strategy, the best line might not bring about the fastest course, or the largest numbers… but ministry isn’t about those results, finally. The best line, in this case, represents a shift in eternity, a change in an eternal destiny, and making the most significant impact we can in a person’s life. That’s the end goal of our ministry strategies.
A strategy also assesses our available resources.
My son’s basketball team of 9–11-year-olds were all Steph Curry wannabes. They all fancied themselves as outside shooters—they never saw a shot they didn’t like! When they got on the court, sometimes it was a free-for-all of kids trying to drain a bucket from behind the arc. But, if all we have are shooters but no post players, in order for us to win, we need to assess our available resources, make adjustments to our roster and plot a strategy to win based on what we have on the team.
A strategy makes every effort intentional.
What if your football team chose to take a knee at every first down, simply because your quarterback didn’t like first down, or because they enjoyed making the offensive line take the hits? What if the quarterback chose to make the first down a practice throw out-of-bounds?
It’s ridiculous to even think about that kind of coaching. *Why would any team waste an opportunity to advance their position?
A strategy plots the best line from where we are to where we need to go.
We acknowledge that truth in every other component of our lives; from our finances to our vacations to our education, we strive to be intentional about how we spend our time, energy and resources.
Are we as committed to that intentionality with the Master's resources?
Do you remember the parable of the Talents, or the parable of the Minas in Luke… how the man gave his servants resources commensurate with their abilities and instructed them to go and do business, to occupy until he returned?
What are you gonna do with what He gave you?
What’s your strategy?
From a very practical position, I don’t want to spin my wheels. I’m tired of doing events and activities every year just because we do them every year.
I’m committed to serving Jesus.
I’m committed to being obedient to His Great Commission.
I’m committed to our students and their families.
I don’t wanna miss my shot,
I don’t wanna waste an opportunity, and
I don’t want a single effort wasted because eternity weighs in the balance.
Why am I throwing the football out-of-bounds?
Why am I shooting jumpshots when I should be driving the ball into the lane?
What’s your strategy?
What’re you doing with what you have to get you where you need to go?
Rev. Stephen Jones currently serves as the Pastor of Student Ministries at Living Hope Church in Lenoir, NC. In 2002, Stephen earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Christian Ministries from Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, GA. In 2008, he completed a Master’s of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. Since 2002, Stephen’s full-time ministry to teenagers has spanned two IPHC Conferences, three IPHC churches, and numerous IPHC summer camps. Stephen currently occupies the Leadership and Skill Development Portfolio under the Student Ministries Advisory Team.