Winning in Youth Ministry – Scott Talley

Lee Lethers Podcast

What does it mean to win in ministry? What kind of things should be measure and how should we keep track of these things? Joining Brian to talk about this is Scott Talley. Scott is the student pastor at Church at the Cross in Orlando, FL and the author of the new book, Ministry Win.

Q: What is a win in ministry and why is it important to be able to identify and talk about them?

A: We usually see increased attendance as the only measurable win in ministry. While better attendance is still a win and can be a good indicator, it should not be the only measurement. There must be a why to evaluate where we are and where we are going. Focus on salvation, discipleship, and leadership training in ourselves as ministers.

Q: What do you consider wins in your ministry? When and how did you begin to measure?

A: Five years ago, my doctorate project was about the question, “Ho­w can we get to a point where we can keep score and know what is happening in our ministry? I want to know how we can win in ministry.” I began looking for tools and asking everyone involved in what I considered to be winning ministries. Some knew what they measured, and some did not even think about it. This process is what led to creating the ministry scorecard.

Q: How did you develop the scorecard for ministry?

A: Students leaders: I hired juniors and seniors to be interns in my ministry. This gave them ownership and the opportunity to share what they thought were ministry wins.

Q: What is on your scorecard?

A: The same scorecard will not work for everyone, but you can take some ideas from what worked for me. 5 ways (from Jeff Lovingood): Coming to Worship, Connecting to Fellowship, Growing in Discipleship, Serving Others in Ministry, and Going to Reach the World.

Q:  What did you do intentionally to improve on the number of visitors returning?

A: Our students are at the door, ready to connect a visitor to something substantial, like introducing them to new a friend or involving them in an activity. Once I told one of my interns to stick by an exceptionally quiet visitor’s side to make sure he felt loved, and a part of the ministry (even if the visitor did not seem to welcome the companionship). Barriers may take a while to break down, but they do after consistent love and connection. Pay attention to the individuals.

Q: Since your scorecard changed when you moved to a new location, how can a student pastor develop a scorecard for his own ministry context?

A: From my book, Ministry Win:

  1. Biblical foundation – The ministry must be backed by scripture because we want our students to be biblically  founded as well: Ephesians 4, Titus 2, 2 Timothy, Matthew 28.
  2. Ministry Context – Know your ministry’s DNA. It is always different. Learn about the schools, local government, whether it is rural or urban, etc.
  3. After knowing these, create your categories for wins. Ex. My categories were bite-sized wins and king-sized wins, to differentiate between the happy wins and the substantial ones you could live off of.

Measuring with a ministry scorecard is good. Spirituality is not cookie-cutter, but many aspects of ministry should be measured and kept track of.

Q: What is one thought and biblical text on which you built a foundation for your ministry?

A: 2 Timothy 2:2 describes four generations of disciples being made, from Paul to Timothy and continuing on. I want multiple generations coming to Christ in ministry. If our students are not reproducing believers we have failed. I want my students to be discipled and then about 6 months later bring someone along with them. After leading them both, I want the first student to take over and disciple the second. I want them to own their faith and grow in it through discipleship, evangelism and outreach.

Your students multiplying the gospel through discipleship will impact lives beyond your own capacity. Empower your students because they will be able to go places you will never get to go and share with people you will never get to meet.

Q: What do you use to practically keep track of these wins?

A: I have a Monday folder where I record the week’s wins, losses, visitors and possible changes. You cannot grow without knowing your losses. Follow-up with visitors. You want more wins than losses.

Closing thoughts:

You need to know where your students are spiritually and get them serving in your ministry or other areas of the church. Growing in Christ and serving in the church helps students stick with their Christian walk after graduation.

Learn more: – Find Scott’s book, Ministry Win, and their blog. Reach out and ask questions.