The wise adage asserts should a plane take flight only a fraction of a degree off course, its intended destination can be missed by hundreds of miles.
I've seen many a well-meaning church or ministry leader launch a program for the young people, just to "do something," only to be sorely disappointed by the results. At best, some young adult events may come out of the gate with some excitement that promptly wanes; At worst, the programming misses the mark, sometimes even coming across to young adults as an insult.
To start with developing a mission, a self-imposed objective or purpose, affords a young adult ministry direction and focus. It keeps one's efforts on target.
I like how BusinessDictionary.com describes a mission statement:
A written declaration of an organization's core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. Properly crafted mission statements (1) serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not, (2) clearly state which markets will be served and how, and (3) communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization.
A mission is different from a vision in that the former is the cause and the latter is the effect; a mission is something to be accomplished whereas a vision is something to be pursued for that accomplishment. Also called company mission, corporate mission, or corporate purpose.
In an effort to start a young adult ministry, I would recommend fostering a mission statement. It need not be a long exercise. And when one is just starting, the mission statement can be tweaked and refined, but to start without a mission can ultimately hurt one's most earnest efforts.
As a case study example, here's the mission statement for Younger Generation Church:
YG's mission is to deepen our devotion to Jesus Christ by:
• Pursuing Intimacy with GOD…
• Experiencing Community with each other…
• Inspiring those around us with the Hope of Grace…
In YG's mission statement we assert our objective to be Christ-centered in our living out the Great Commandment [Intimacy/Community] and the Great Commission [Grace].
Having a mission statement has helped us set boundaries in what we do and evaluate our efforts. It's also helped young adults know what our agenda is.
In Stephen Covey's wise words, "Begin with the end in mind." Develop the mission statement for your young adult ministry to launch and land on target.