New Year, New You(th Ministry)
In a culture that seems to praise innovation and creative ideas, it seems like a lot of youth ministries can get stuck. Stuck in a routine of programs and events. Things of the past that were once successful, but now seem to be mundane and dull.
As we approach a new year, we have an opportunity to change the status quo. We have the opportunity to bring excitement, energy, and life to our ministries.
New Years always seems to be a time of reevaluating our personal lives, where we are, where we want to be, and setting up goals on how to get there. Why not take some time to do the same for your ministry?
For most, it goes without saying that there is value in taking time to consider the effectiveness of your ministry. But for some, it still seems to be a missing ingredient in their ministry routine.
Why do you do what you do?
A few weeks ago, I was convicted and humbled while listening to Francis Chan teaching about what the church could and should look like. He said something along the lines of “If you had no previous knowledge or experience to go off of, and you simply read the bible, what would a church plant look like?”
This statement was sobering for me. As I meditated on my specific context of youth ministry, I began to ask myself why I do certain things. As I continued to dwell on these questions, I feel like I had a solid biblically based reason for the things our ministry was doing. But what I needed to be careful of was thinking that the way that we were doing things was the best way, or, more importantly, God’s way.
What would a revamped ministry look like for you? What would outreach look like if you could start over? Discipleship? Worship? If you started from scratch, simply seeking God’s will for your ministry, would it look like what it looks like now?
This is a challenging spot to be in. As I found out, there are reasons for the things we do, but I would love to give you some options to help you begin to imagine a new look and feel for your ministry.
Mix up responsibility.
Depending on the size and gifts of your staff/volunteer leadership team, you might be able to redistribute some tasks. I have learned over the past few months of ministry and new responsibilities that I am gifted and excited about some things that I wouldn’t have considered doing previously.
Talk to people.
Talk to people in different ministries about things that are working. Having a network of like-minded people working in a different setting toward the same goal can give you insight to the culture, what type of ministry events are being effective in other areas (CAUTION: You can’t just assume that if it works somewhere else, it will work with you. You must dig deep to find out WHY it is working).
Bring in fresh eyes.
Our ministry recently brought in a consultant to look at our team, how we work together and individually in light of our programming. Having a consultant come in brought about both major and minor changes to our ministry that we may have otherwise not implemented. The most important thing about bringing in fresh eyes (especially if it is a professional, i.e. someone you are paying), you must not only hear what they say but be ready and willing to make the suggested changes.
This should be an obvious step, but I know that I am guilty of not praying about the structure of our regular programming. I know that we have done things a certain way for a while, so it doesn’t even cross my mind that I should change it.
Get the students involved.
Ask them what they love about your weekly programming. Ask them what they would change if they were in charge. Ask them what their least favorite aspect of your programming is. Ask them for permission to change things. Obviously, you are in charge of a lot of these aspects of your ministry, and you make the call as a leader, but students are usually hesitant to change, especially if they are not a part of the process.
These things may be some good first steps. Be careful not to over correct by making sudden, large changes. This may cause confusion and pushback among students, even if it is a good change. Make smaller, more subtle changes in which the end result is the large change you are looking for.
For me, the key is remembering that obedience is the key. Being prepared to respond to the voice or promptings of the Holy Spirit. We have all been entrusted with a great responsibility to lead and shepherd these students toward the heart of God. Let’s do that with excellence.
Tyler Suplee works with Junior High Students at Grace Fellowship UMC in Katy TX. He is married to his wife Christina, and they have one dependent, their dog Buster. You can find him on Instagram @TSUPLEE.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.