Back to School Big Focus: Begin With the End in Mind


As you enter the new school year, the energy and excitement within your ministry will begin to build. Students are back from vacation, getting into a regular routine, and pulling into your church parking lot by the droves. But how do you take advantage of this season to create lasting impact in the lives of your students? Take a step back right now to get a big focus on why you do what you do.

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey challenges readers to begin with the end in mind. As schools are starting back and as ministries are kicking off, there are a few things we must do to truly begin with the end in mind.


You need clarity around the purpose of your ministry. Why do you exist? What do you want students to know, do or be as they graduate from the program? What is your pastor’s vision for your ministry? Stop thinking just numerical growth and more chairs filled, but at the end of this school year what does it look like to win? As you are beginning with the end in mind and setting goals, ask yourself if your goals are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound)?


You might be guilty of looking at your ministry through rose colored glasses. Maybe it’s because you are assuming the best, or maybe it’s just blind optimism but you must have an accurate assessment of where you are starting from. What is the true spiritual climate of your group? What are your actual attendance patterns? Do you have enough leaders connected with the students relationally to get to the end that you have in mind? Ask God to give you wisdom and understanding and remember what it says in James 1:5,

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”


Now that you know where you want to end up and you know where you are starting from, you need to chart the course to get there. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said,

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

It’s not enough to think of the end that you have in mind, you must begin the work to get there. What do you need to be doing quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily to bridge the gap between your start and end? Who do you need to bring on your team, what tasks do you need to delegate and how do you need to communicate the mission to get the ball rolling?

Proverbs 16:9 offers wisdom where it says,

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

In all things remember that your primary goal is to follow God and allow Him to guide your steps. As you move into this season and begin with the end in mind, remember the incredible call that God has placed on your life and thank Him for being a God who guides you along the way.

(Originally posted the Youth Specialties blog at:

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