One of my favorite holiday traditions is the making of New Year’s resolutions. After the last two years of floating goals and revisited plans, the chance to be intentional and deliberate about where I feel called in 2022 is especially exciting. As the children and youth leaders gathered in my congregation this Fall, we also felt that January would be a particularly good time to make resolutions for where we want to go and grow in the new year.
Instead of approaching planning for Spring semester, Vacation Bible School, or 2022/2023 curriculum as a hopeful technical exercise in comparing catalogue offerings or writing supply lists, I invite those of us deeply invested in first third of life ministries to use this time celebrating new beginnings to practice setting or reaffirming specific vision, mission, and core values. This can be done at a prayerful leaders’ retreat or over a series of times set aside during other meetings, but a particularly helpful practice is to begin by consciously stepping outside the realm of “business brain” and checkbox habits. Take a moment to breathe deep, to share stories of mentors or trips that marked a significant growth point in your faith. Intentionally recharge and celebrate your “why” in doing first third of life ministry. Then ask the question, “What matters most for those seeking to share Jesus in a 2022, tech-savvy, pandemic-emergent world?”
I would volunteer that words/phrases you may want to consider are:
- mental health equipped and trauma informed
- culturally inclusive and representing (which means considering ethnicity but also ability, socio-economic status, and sexuality or gender understanding)
- intergenerational and relationship building
- hybrid and technologically informed in a listening and relational way
Every context has specific needs and strengths that will grow your list, but be careful not to overwhelm yourself and your team or get overly specific. Take the time to pray and meditate on how vital your efforts are in shaping the next generation of God’s church in the world and think specifically about what skills your children, youth, and leaders will need to be to do the work of spreading the good news of God’s welcoming love in a 2022 world. What has changed in yourself, your congregation, your community in the last year or two? What skills do you need to feel confident and equipped to be at peace in the new spaces where you find yourself? How can you best serve God and the young people you care about in our current world?