by Jeremy Holbrook
Other than the start of a new school year in the fall, a new year seems to be the next best time on the calendar to implement change in ministry. And though January is gone, there’s still plenty of time left in 2016 to consider new changes and risks for improving your ministry.
But why would we change a ministry strategy? Why take a risk?
We first must come to an understanding that the way we measure success must be ultimately different when it comes to spiritual growth than the way we’d define success with any other endeavor.
I can recall my first time attending a large national ministry convention, and every time I’d meet a new face, the two questions that were inevitable were: “Where you from?” and “How big is your group?” There it was. I’ve been measured, sized up, and ranked.
I’ll confess, I have way more sarcasm than I should, so after being asked the same question over and over, my reply became: “Well, the average is probably 75 pounds each.”
Our ministries should not be defined by the number of seats that are filled every week.
Sure, numbers matter. I mean, there’s an entire book about it in the Bible, but please stop judging yourself and others by the measurement of the crowd! Until we grasp that God is more concerned with the depth of growth of the individual and their development of authentic faith, we’ll always shackle ourselves with the numbers game.
Most ministry changes occur (most risks are taken) based on one of two reasons: Reason or Emotion.
Changes of staff or leadership, policy or procedure updates, curriculum changes are all risks that can be reasoned, measured, weighed, and calculated to be utilized for God’s glory through your ministry.
But some risks are driven by fear or by our ego. “We had 150 kids at VBS last year, we need to have over 200 this year.” No, you don’t.
“If we don’t perform the golden-calf Christmas Musical, parents will revolt to such a degree it will make the Hunger Games look like a thumb-wrestling match.” No, it won’t. (And even if it did, that would only show you that the past priority was on product and not the growth of authentic faith.)
God has called you to lead. He has trusted you with difficult decisions to make, and our reward is the knowledge that we can turn to Him for help.
Are you facing risk? Are you about to make significant ministry changes?
- Pray for discernment. Listen for His answer.
- Cast vision to other key leaders. Do not make the changes without bouncing the idea off of critical ministry partners. My best ideas often come in a raw form, and through the refining process of discussion, they become so much better with the perspective of others.
- Make sure that the risk you’re about to take is for the development of authentic faith in the lives of the children/students/people you serve. Always have the end in mind. (To borrow a line from Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”)
- See it through. Commit. If God originated it, He’s going to orchestrate it.
I am praying that as we leaders face decisions every day that are significant in the lives of our church, we also understand that we are loved beyond our wildest imagination by a God who would do the unthinkable. We are valued by our Creator. We were bought for an extremely costly price. We are prayed for by Jesus. John 17:20 shows us that Jesus prayed for the ones who would believe in Him.
Loved. Valued. Prayed For.
The Victory has been sealed. Seek Him!
Jeremy Holbrook is the pastor for children’s ministries at Wildwood Church in Ashland, Kentucky.