Being a Minnesota Vikings football fan has not always been easy. I have had to endure some long seasons, but through all of their misfortunes, they will forever be my team (plus, there is always next year…and another quarterback). Although recently, the Vikings have started a tradition that I absolutely love! At the beginning of each home game, they start with what is called the “SKOL Chant.” In unison, a stadium full of purple and gold, clap over their heads and chants the word “SKOL,” all while staying to the beat of a giant drum. It is a 1,000 years old Icelandic chant that has become the Vikings new pre-game war cry! It is their teams’ mantra, and it is AWESOME!
As for the youth ministry I serve, we too, have a mantra. It is, “You are Known, Valued and Loved – by God and us.” It comes from the three parables Jesus teaches in Luke 15…the Lost Sheep (Known), the Lost Coin (Valued), and the Lost Son (Loved). It is our fight song. Our battle cry. Our mantra. Now, it is NOT our greatest message – that seat is saved for the good news of Jesus, but the culture and environment we hope to set while stewarding the gospel message is incredibly important. Important enough to have a mantra. Sticking with the football analogy, our culture mantra is the lead blocker that opens the hole for us to move the message of Jesus right down the field. Here are a few reasons why having a culture mantra matters…
Culture Beats Strategy
It has been said that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and I believe it. Culture is important when working with any group, especially teenagers. Our programs can be top-notch, but if our culture does not match our message, then we are only sending mixed signals, not clear ones pointing to Jesus. You can have the best strategy on the planet, but if you do not have a good culture, then chances are your message may never stick.
Culture Cultivates Community
Culture should communicate who God is calling you to become – for both students individually, as well as, for the group collectively. It is the thing teens can rally around and get behind. Strip everything away. Take away the programs, stages, facilities, budgets, etc. and what is left? Hopefully, what remains is a genuine community that loves God and loves others well. A healthy culture can help build authentic relationships that can last, centered around Jesus.
Culture Spreads Contagiously
The message that matters most is the one that teens can embody outside the walls of the youth room and apply to their daily walk. One that teens can rally around. A battle cry they can believe in. One that calls them closer to Jesus. A vision for what could be. And when embraced, it can act as the greatest invitation a student can offer someone – the invitation of a transformed life. Culture cannot live within the walls of the church. It must walk right out the door with students and bee-line them to Jesus always.
- How about your ministry?
- What is your rallying cry that helps drive what you do and how you serve?
Chad lives with his wife, Katy, and 3 sons (Abram, Micah, and Sammy) in Indianapolis, IN. He’s been serving in youth ministry for over 18 years and loves it more today than ever before. Chad is a local church guy who is passionately “for” the next generation. He currently serves at Indian Creek Christian Church in Indianapolis.