If you’ve been around Ministry Architects at all, you've probably heard this metaphor about the dance floor. But just in case, allow me to spell it out. The dance floor is the set of systems where our ministry to youth takes place. Without healthy systems, we can create the most engaging programs known to youth ministry, and dancers (aka youth leaders) will continue to be carried off that floor broken and disappointed, one after another. Ministry Architects says there are two simple things we must address in order to build a healthy system. The first was architecture, and the second was atmosphere.
Think about it this way, the architecture will be the longstanding design of your ministry, things that are in place for years to come. Youth directors will change. Programs will change. Décor or technology may change, but the daily, weekly, and yearly habits, the communication channels, and behind-the-scenes processes for accomplishing objectives will stay the same. Those architectural elements are foundational pieces which remain critical to changing programs through shifts in culture, advances in technology or the passage of time.
The second thing we addressed is atmosphere. Think of atmosphere as the shine on that dance floor. The floor can be structurally sound, but hit a rough patch mid dance, and our dancer is more than likely to take a nasty spill. Atmosphere is the thing that either encourages or prevents smooth turns and allows for graceful leaps with soft landings. Atmosphere speaks to the interpersonal relationships on our team and within our church. The image and reputation of the youth ministry with the senior pastor, committees, parents, and the general congregation is a vital part of atmosphere as well. Mark Devries, founder of Ministry Architects and author of Sustainable Youth Ministry writes, “Sustainable youth ministries make the leap from a short-term, patchwork ministry to ones based on established systems that last long after the current leadership team has moved on.”
It doesn’t matter who the dancers are, he argues, if the dance floor is in shambles.
The IPC dance floor continues to strengthen as our list volunteers continue to grow. Our Sunday school classes and Sunday night small groups are able to run solely by volunteers. Longtime volunteer Gail Pless has returned to teach a popular topics small group on Wednesday nights, and our boys and girls basketball coaches are young adults volunteers. We have grown so much with our volunteers while continuing to focus on what we are hearing from our youth. We now have three youth elders, three youth deacons, a youth subcommittee (youth and adults), and a robust youth grant team. Youth ministry continues to build the dance floor with its wonderful volunteers as we prepare for our next dancer.