Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Be, Know, Do

Posted on by YFC Seattle

By Warren Mainard, CORE & Youth Ministry Network Director

Practice Five: Be, Know, Do - Start with the End in Mind

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michaelangelo

There is a legend attributed to the iconic Italian artist Michaelangelo that recounts how he came every day to his studio and would stare at a block of marble.  For months, all he would do is gaze intently at the block of marble, without ever lifting a chisel or a hammer.  During this time, someone stopped in and asked him what he was doing, to which he responded, “working.”  Finally, he picked up the chisel and the hammer and soon, Michaelangelo’s David was completed.

Typically, youth leaders are known much more for their frenetic energy than their deep, intentional thought life.  There is always another message to be prepared, event to be planned, student to be counseled, meeting to be run and mess to be cleaned up.  Without intentional, concentrated, long-term focus, it is unlikely that your energy will result in a beautiful masterpiece.

When it comes to sculpting students into lifelong disciples of Jesus, it is important to take time to truly think with the end in mind before picking up the tools of the trade and chipping away.  Imagine a 12 year-old entering into your ministry.  What kind of disciple do you want to see him become by the time he graduates from High School and out of your youth ministry?  Several years ago, I took some time to look intently at my student ministry.  I asked the question - “What kind of disciples is my student ministry producing?”  Not content with the answer to that question, I wrote down the words, Be, Know, Do.  I asked the question(s), “If a student enters into my student ministry in middle school and stays with us for 6-7 years, what do I want them to be, what do I want them to know, and what do I want them to do?”  If you were to reflect on that question, how would you answer it?  While I encourage you to drill down and compile your own list, here are a few examples that might help you begin:


  • Confident in their Gospel Identity in Christ.
  • Demonstrate evidence of salvation through the fruit of the Spirit.
  • A person of character and integrity.
  • Deeply passionate about an abiding relationship with Christ.


  • How to read, study and lead others with God’s Word.
  • Share their personal testimony and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others.
  • The meta-narrative of Scripture and the centrality of Christ in God’s Word.
  • Their spiritual gifts and how to use them.


  • Engaged in spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, and listening to God.
  • Actively involved with the local church (not only the youth ministry).
  • Giving and serving regularly.
  • Living with Kingdom first priorities.

What would you add or subtract from this list?  As you compile this list, I would encourage you to not add more than 8 items in each category.  Once you have completed the list, here comes the fun (and painful) part - Evaluate your current youth ministry teaching and events calendar to the items on this list.  Remove every lesson, meeting, program or event that does not clearly and directly promote and support at least one item on your Be, Know and Do (BKD) list.  Be fierce in this process.  You may decide later that you need to re-work an event or lesson, but for now, take it off.  Everything left on your events and teaching calendar should have at least one BKD item attached to it.  

Now, examine and see what is missing?  What changes need to be made in order to ensure that every item on this list is addressed intentionally at least once every 24 months?  What new message series, Bible studies, weekend retreats, programs or events need to implemented in order to address these desired outcomes?  How do parents, volunteers, leaders, Senior Pastor and outside speakers/guests need to be incorporated more effectively into your student ministry?

As you take time to stare at the marble, to truly take time to think and reflect and examine without pride or prejudice, you will discover that there is a masterpiece waiting to be set free in your students and student ministry.  Finally, remember this quote from Michaelangelo too, “Genius is eternal patience.”  You can’t microwave or mass produce disciples.  It takes time, it takes patience, it takes an eternal perspective.

Other Posts in this Series:

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Mentorship

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Parental Guidance

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Balance

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Teamwork

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Communication

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Empower

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