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Are you rehashing or reimagining ministry?

As  I read several congregations’ newsletters and ministry plans, I get the impression that most plans being made for the 2014-15 ministry year are simply a rehash of what’s been done in the past.  The planning processes seem to revolve around “what’s been” rather that “what might be?”  I think what’s missing in many congregations today is a “what if” culture.  Here are some “what if” questions I’d like you to consider:

  • What if we were launching this ministry for the first time – how would we do it?
  • What if we dropped this program?  What difference would it make in lives of our faith community or larger community?
  • What if we added an online component to this ministry so that others could participate anytime, anywhere?
  • What if we partnered with local congregations rather than do this just by ourselves?
  • What if we had a cross+generational mix of new people plan this event rather than the same people who have done if for the past 10 years?
  • What if this program was broken into short blocks of activity rather than something that runs year-round?
  • What would this event look like if we incorporated everyone’s learning style rather than just one or two?
  • What if another staff member took over this ministry who had gifts and passions more closely aligned to it?

Leaders need to look in the rearview mirror and reflect on the impact of their ministry activities.  They also need to be forward thinking, seeking to discern God’s preferred future for their setting. Rehashing ministry may be an easy and efficient pathway for planning the coming year, but I’m not convinced that it’s the most effective way to bring about transformation in people’s lives.  What might you need to reimagine rather than rehash for the upcoming program year?

Some Toughts (2)

  1. added on 4 Aug, 2014

    So many of these “What if” questions seem to apply to what I’m currently working on! One thing I’ve always dreaded working in youth ministry is getting the talk of “This is what we’ve always done and we hope nothing changes.” I remember for my first position, I took about 2 months to get settled, meet parents and members of the congregation and start meeting with the youth. After 2 months, I did hold a meeting with youth and parents to ask what they’d like to do now that there was a Youth Director. For an hour and a half, I was put in my place about how 10 years ago, the church had a solid youth program that was very strong. Then I heard about things from the past 7 years (that I had nothing to do with), but people were still very angry about. These people spent so much time looking back, they couldn’t join with me to re-imagine what the ministry COULD be. It’s a great reminder that the windshield is a lot bigger than the rear view mirror for a reason.

    From the “What if” questions, I love the idea of launching the ministry as if for the first time. It gives me a sense of constant renewal and that the ministry is not going to fit in a box. Also, I just read A Lifelong Faith Formation Network (for Cert School) and it has great ideas that I’ll pursue for having an online presence through Google +Hangout, Pinterest and creating a website via Weebly or WordPress. I can see the middle and high school students really getting on board with that! Also, I do want to have ministry and programs run the whole year, but with breaks periodically for small groups. In the past, I had pastors and church members who didn’t ever ask what I was doing with the youth… They only asked about numbers. Luckily, my conversation with God revolves around the quality of the interactions, not the quantity of people there.

  2. Cindy Mueller
    added on 7 Aug, 2014

    This is so true. The dreaded “We’ve always done it that way.” Or – “We never done it that way before.” are regular comments I encounter when working with groups who are planning for the future. “What if,” questions seem to stimulate their thinking a bit better. I also lead off with “I wonder….” and fill in a comment to get people thinking in different ways. It seems to free up people to begin thinking outside the box without seeming to threaten their assumptions.

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