I believe there are seasons where we'd agree that change is good and necessary, where our ministries need to be shaken-up a little, not for the sake of change, but to adjust things for a healthier and more effective ministry.
But how do you begin to assess and effectively implement those changes?
The easiest way is to simply "tweak" a program element. For example, maybe you have the worship set come at the end of a message instead of the beginning. After all, this change is noticeable. It will alter the flow of a student service. People will notice it!
But is this type of tweak really considered change?
Too often youth pastors are too busy, too overwhelmed, and maybe, dare I say it, too complacent to make real, intentional changes. Tweaking minor elements of your programming can be made without any real thought. But too often we count tweaks as real change, as if a pull here and a push there could really affect the overall effectiveness of our ministries.
I believe as youth ministers, we need to have an attitude of evaluation with an eye toward intentional change.
I don't need to tell you that we're ministering to students in a culture that has (and is) undergoing radical shifts. We must be willing to adjust our ministry compass in a way that doesn't just alter a program element here or there, but affects our entire DNA, if that is what it takes to effectively reach our students. In short, we have to be willing to make intentional changes where our very ETHOS is affected.
The ethos of your youth ministry is its foundational, or inherent culture, character, or identity. The ethos of any environment is built over time. Take Disney for example. I live 20 minutes from Disneyland. Disney has spent almost 60 years working on the ETHOS of the "happiest place on earth." I know people who work there who tell me about entire days spent walking around the park on knee-pads just to observe the park from a child's perspective. The cool thing? The next day they make changes that go into effect immediately.
When was the last time you or your team took intentional time to evaluate EVERY aspect of your ministry to make intentional change for the benefit of your students?
We need to assess every aspect of our ministries so we are intentionally caring, loving, and directing our students. Here's a few suggestions of how to start. AND, I highly encourage you to not do this alone but in a group:
- Write out the values or purpose of why the student ministry exists.
- List out EVERY aspect of your ministry. Everything is up for evaluation.
- Without reaching, see what aspects of your ministry are and aren't lining up with your values and purpose.
- Pray that God's Spirit will direct you to change.
- Make the changes needed!
Making intentional changes will ensure your ministry stays effective in a changing culture.