Q&A: 2 Goals for Your First Two Years in Ministry


by Shane Thacker

If you’ve been around my podcast lately, you’re probably familiar with what I call The "God is Calling Me" Season: whether it’s for the right reasons or not, leaders all around between March and May each year are moving on. Maybe that’s you, and I pray that God was at the forefront of your decision. But I came across this the other day, a youth pastor said that they were starting from scratch in youth ministry at a church and asked: “What are some realistic goals in the first two years?”

I love this question. I love realistic goals. I love just getting to the point, too. Thankfully, regardless of the context of ministry you’re in, regardless of the size of your church (or the size of your position of leadership), the answer will ALWAYS be the same. Here they are, let’s get straight to the point:

Realistic Goal #1: Fall in Love With the Lord

Sounds almost too simple, right? Seriously though, do yourself and your church a favor; stop everything you’re doing and check where you stand with the Lord. In Revelation, Jesus warned the Church in Ephesus against forgetting their first love, but really this is also a warning to us all! How can we possibly lead in the church if we don’t have this down?

How are your spiritual disciplines? Are you regularly in the Word of God, or as a result of your vocation, has the Bible become cheapened to a textbook? Are you finding yourself regularly in prayer or distracted by almost everything under the sun trying to grasp your attention?  Are you following the Lord’s sovereign will or finding yourself on another path? Let this be your first realistic goal. In the end, it’s certainly the one that matters most. The more you fall in love with the Lord, the clearer you’ll see life from His perspective. From there will naturally outflow into the next goal.

Realistic Goal #2: Fall in Love With the Church

Even though this person was asking a question about youth ministry, I’m still talking about the entire church; and honestly I’d answer it the same regardless of what area they’re serving in. There are times and places that require more of our attention, but if we truly believe that we’re the body of Christ, then we need to recognize the importance of working together across the entire church.

As you get to know your entire church family, big or small, you’ll be able to break down any walls that have been put up and truly be able to move forward as a church in whatever ways God is leading you!

The Greatest Commandments

There’s a lot of great leaders and amazing programs out there, but when starting fresh, my challenge to you is to quit trying to mimic what all they’re doing and just follow what Jesus says! If you can do these two things alone, it will dynamically change how you lead in the church! Jesus tells it plainly in this exchange:

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22:35-39

About the Author

Shane Thacker has been on staff at Inola Christian Church since 2016 and has been in ministry for over 10 years. His mission is to develop content that leads people to Jesus. He’s the author of the book, The Total Ministry Makeover, which is a program he designed to help church leaders everywhere on the right foundation for life in the ministry. You can find his podcast based on the book here.

You can find more info at www.shanethacker.org.