Understanding Your Context

You live in the same town as your ministry context. You know everything about it, right? Maybe you grew up there and went to the local schools. Perhaps, you moved there from out of town. Do you understand and know the exact demographics and history within your town? I have learned a lot over the last few years about understanding my context and where I serve.

Seven months ago my wife and I began a new journey in our life, we moved from Durham, North Carolina to head to Orlando, Florida. As you guessed these are two different context settings. I have looked back over my notes to truly begin to understand my current context. I want to share in today's blog some of my notes to help you know your setting better.

I know that this blog may seem a bit different then my usual post, but I want to challenge you to work through some of the exercises to see if it helps you out as a Youth Worker in your area.

Exercise #1: Take a few moments to write down or type up the demographics of your ministry. Be thorough.

I grew up in Delaware in what I believed to be a small town. Looking back today, the town has grown drastically since I was little. Last time I was there Starbucks has moved into town and big chain restaurants. I could tell you everything about that context when I lived there, but honestly, the information I know would only contain half the details. Because when research and information begin to occur the real statistics come out. The same happens when you research your ministry context.

Understanding your context and ministry will help to have the vision to reach students. The place to begin to understand your ministry is to do research. I took six months to understand the ministry context in North Carolina and to examine the two counties that I ministered in daily. But, now that I am in Orlando, I have spent the last few months studying the culture, context, and demographics. For example, 18% of the population surrounding Orlando and our church is made up of teenagers. I could keep sharing statistics and demographics, but doing research helps you reach students strategically.

The research contains going to your local county websites or offices and learn about the demographics. You need to know the age ranges, gender breakdown, the races, and religions with your area. By understanding, just these few parts of the demographics will help you to begin to break down ministry and train your students to understand other religions or cultures where your students do ministry.

Exercise: What is the breakdown and makeup of your student ministry? Does your ministry reflect the demographics surrounding your ministry setting?

Exercise: How does the breakdown of your ministry affect how you do ministry?

I love to read, and I can list off numerous authors or books to read understanding your ministry context, but I won't put you through all that today. Instead, let me share this with you, each one of you have a pivotal role within your ministry. I have seen by going through these exercises and by researching my context, that I have become stronger as a minister. Also, while doing research I learned alot about the context and how to be strategic in ministry. I pray that you will work through these excercises and apply it to your ministry also this year.

Scott Talley