Comfort is the enemy of growth. I think all of us in ministry fight this tension all the time. We see growth and signs of life in our ministries, and it can be easy to simply keep doing what seems to be working. But we all know that doing the same thing over and over again doesn’t necessarily ensure long-term success. What is working today may not work in a year, or in a month, or even tomorrow. Churches change, culture changes, leadership changes, and inevitably, comfort will lead to stagnation.
So what can we do to keep our ministries and ourselves growing and moving forward? How can we keep taking the next steps forward so we can have maximum impact for the Kingdom? Here are 10 simple “next steps” you can take to enhance your ministry.
- Add to your team – Volunteers add a lot to your ministry. Focus your attention on adding new leaders to your team, even if you don’t currently “need” them. They can lend fresh eyes to your ministry, provide incredible feedback, build relationships with students that are on the fringes, and take ministry off your plate. Even adding a new couple or a new parent to your team can pay huge dividends and help you see areas to improve your ministry.
- Track new metrics – Getting creative with your metrics can reveal a lot about your ministry and can help you disciple your students more effectively. Most of us track attendance, but what about tracking how many students are currently serving with other ministries within your church? Instead of tracking rears in seats, then you’ll know more about students who are invested. Or how about tracking the percentage of students who attend your large group and ALSO are involved in a small group? Find new and creative ways to track the metrics in your ministry and grow from there.
- Hand off ministry to volunteers – All of us could probably grow in this area. Instead of just having volunteers in the room to keep things running smoothly, how about releasing them to do ministry alongside you? Train them to give the announcements, run the games, lead the worship team, teach the message, or facilitate the small group discussions. When you hand off ministry to your volunteers, your ministry gets a bunch of fresh new energy and perspective, and your volunteers grow in big ways!
- Hand off ministry to students – In the same vein, handing off ministry to your students is a powerful way to build buy-in, encourage spiritual growth, and identify gifts in your students that can shape them for years to come. Sure, it will take effort and energy to train them, disciple them, and ensure they are ready to lead. There will be bumps along the way, but it will be worth it.
- Communicate in new ways with parents – You say you value family, and that you want to partner with parents, but your monthly email is only getting opened by 20% of the parents who are receiving it. Maybe it’s time to find a fresh way to communicate. Start a blog, add a new text group for parents who want resources, use the power of Facebook to connect parents together, invite them to a parent meeting after church on a Sunday, or offer “parent meet up” times at a local coffee shop.
- Begin or end a program – I’m currently reading Henry Cloud’s “Necessary Endings,” and it’s rocking my world. Sometimes, even good things have to come to an end so that better things can grow. When was the last time you shook things up, did your ministry differently, or tried a new event that might be a colossal failure. It’s been said, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.” Maybe it’s time to kill something so something else can grow.
- Teamwork makes the dream work – Silo ministries don’t work and don’t honor the Kingdom. How well does your ministry connect with the larger ministry of your church? How could you and your worship minister or children’s minister work together to enhance BOTH of your ministries? Could your students serve in your food pantry, giving much needed help to that ministry and helping your students grow as they serve in a fresh way? Take a few minutes each week to connect with other ministries in fresh ways, and see how it enhances your ministry.
- Double down on your mission – it’s ALWAYS good to keep your mission and purpose in front of your students. Can your students identify and apply your mission? Can they repeat it or share it with others? How could doubling down on your mission enhance your ministry and help your students have new passion? How could you communicate it even more clearly in the coming months?
- Be more available – We’re all busy, and we all have LOTS of plates to keep spinning. But could you free up some time in your schedule to be more available to your students and parents? What if you set up a little earlier in the week so the 30 minutes before youth group could be relational time? Could you get off social media for 10 minutes each day and use that time to reach out to students and volunteers?
- Build in time to dream – In the busyness of ministry, it can be easy to get stuck in the mechanics of DOING ministry and forget to DREAM and PRAY about ministry. Build in some time to dream, cast vision, think through, and “what if” your ministry. Meet up with fellow youth pastors, whether online or in person, and just talk through what your big dreams are. Then see how feasible it is to execute.
What would you add to this list? What simple steps have you taken that have paid off in big ways?