One of the questions we are often asked is: How do you get it all done? To be honest, no…
One of the highlights of my year is participating in the Simply Youth Ministry Conference (SYMC). The training is great. The general sessions are fantastic. The highlight for me is the relational space that spawns spontaneous conversations about life and ministry. Most of us go to a conference to learn and gain new insights that will impact our ministries (I’m convinced some of us go to a conference just so we can get away from the church without taking vacation time). Learning isn’t isolated to the workshops and general sessions. The time you spent in conversation and building relationships probably helped you process your conference experience. You may still be carrying on some of those conversations. Now you need to have those conversations with your team.
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Kurt and Josh gave some great guidance in their article. You need to take some time to reflect with God on the direction of the youth ministry before you jump in with any changes. You also need to carefully reflect on all you learned at the conference. Just because someone has a great idea, or is successful, doesn’t mean you need to do what that person does. Success comes by understanding the principles that work. Each ministry is unique. Principles translate from ministry to ministry. The practical application of those principles may look very different. Here are a couple suggestions to help you.
If you’re like us, it takes you 45 minutes to spill all of the details of the 60-minute workshop you attended that changed your life last week at a youth conference. Inspired by it, you lay out a vision for your youth ministry for the next five years. The volunteers sit there like a deer in the headlights; then one of them timidly raises her hand, “Sounds like somebody went to a youth worker conference last week,” she says.
It happens! Sometimes at an incredible event we come down with a case of Let’s Change Everything Syndrome (LCES). If you’ve ever had LCES, you know the temptation to overhaul every aspect of your ministry in the first five days after you get back. Beware of the side effects: volunteer abandonment, blurry vision and upset supervisors.
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Post-conference excitement is natural, and there’s nothing wrong with the desire to make changes when we’ve been exposed to new ideas. But LCES can do more harm than good. Here are a few tips to avoid it.
Pray about what God is asking you to do.
Sometimes after reading an incredible book or hearing an inspiring speaker we think about what we want to do as a result or what worked for them instead of what God’s voice is clearly directing. The only way to distinguish between competing visions is to spend time with God and ask for his vision. Usually taking some time to process, decompress, and pray are the best steps to hearing from him after you’ve been exposed to new ideas.
Wait for the right season to change.
The right time for changes is typically not the Spring or the middle of Fall (which, coincidently is when lots of training events happen). Think strategically about when to bring about significant changes to your ministry. Lay an infrastructure for the move to small groups all summer long; then release them in January. Prepare your volunteers for the junior high/senior high split at the start of the school year this Fall, rather than eagerly announcing it out of the blue tonight at youth group.