One of the benefits of the last year is that we’ve all been forced to try something new, but what about now? We’ve been in this season long enough for things to become familiar or even stale.
It’s easy to get stuck doing the same things over and over again, especially if they work. The trap here is that things rarely go from working to not working in an instant. Instead, effectiveness drains over time making it difficult for us to notice.
Ministries that are truly Kingdom-expanding will be willing to remove or reengineer events and programs that don’t line up with their mission.
Trying something new can bring new energy and momentum to ministry, but we have to be careful. New solely for the sake of new can cause whiplash and fatigue in your volunteers and students. But starting something strategically new based on a framework of implementation can bring positive momentum that lasts.
Last week, I challenged you to be Kingdom-expanding in your leadership, and one of the main ways to do that is to always ask the question: “How does this connect students to the gospel?” This question should be at the forefront of your mind when you consider starting something new.
Here are five steps to take when considering something new:
1. Start with your students!
Talk with students to find out potential new things you can start. Remember—the goal is strategically new, not just new for the sake of new. So this will take some discernment on your part. (Remember your evaluative question!) But, when you include students, you get immediate buy-in from them and they’ll be more likely to engage in the new thing and involve their friends.
2. Present your idea to leadership.
When you want to start something new, the first person who should hear about it is the person you report directly to. If you present new things with clear vision and help leadership understand the “why,” you are more likely to receive a green light to start the new thing! It’s important to be open to feedback during this step. Remember that leadership is part of your “first team,” and is working toward the same goals you are. Collaboration could take your idea to the next level!
3. Cast vision for leaders and parents.
Communication is a high priority any time you try something new. Just like leadership, your volunteers and students need to know the “why” behind this new thing, as well as the role they play in making it a success. If your new thing is strategic—and it should be—communicate the vision often. Your leaders should be able to articulate how this new thing helps connect students to the gospel and begin to evaluate their own role in the new thing by that standard. This takes unending communication from you.
4. Give away responsibility.
Sometimes this is really hard, especially when we are particularly attached to a new idea. What parts of this new thing do you need to lead specifically and which pieces can you give to others, allowing them to expand their influence and develop their skills? Don’t forget to consider students in this as well. They may not do things exactly the way you would, but it could be a valuable part of their own discipleship journey.
5. Develop measures and evaluate.
How will you know if this new thing succeeds without proper measures? Before you begin, establish what success looks like, communicate that mark of success, and plan ahead for a time of evaluation with your key leaders, students, and/or staff. Remember that measurement isn’t always about numbers—it can, and should, be about engagement, too.
This post was written by Ben Trueblood, Director of Lifeway Students. Ben is passionate about investing in student ministry leaders like you. You can find more encouragement from Ben on his YouTube Channel, Student Ministry That Matters.