Transitions are a natural part of ministry. For you, as a minister, transitioning to a new church is something you will likely experience more than once in your life, and maybe something coming up quickly for a few of us.
I have transitioned into six new churches and picked up a few things along the way. At one church, I discovered there’s a tension between implementing change and waiting before doing so. At another, I discovered the disconnect between the interview and reality.
I recently just started in a new ministry, and I have found myself having three conversations I thought I would share with you. These are not the only conversations taking place, but they are key to moving forward.
- Where are we? It’s very difficult to do anything with success without knowing your starting point. You have to be able to assess and discern where the ministry stands in relationship to the church, the leadership, the age and maturity of the group, the adults who are invested, and the history of how the ministry got to where it is. Trying to ask and answer the next questions are pointless without knowing your starting point. It would be like trying to hit a bullseye on a target that doesn’t exist—you have to have space around the bullseye to know what is truly the aim.
- Where can we be three years down the road? The reality in ministry, especially in youth ministry, is the landscape can change drastically in three years. By beginning to paint the picture of what can be down the road, you help clarify the changes that need to take place to get there. There’s also a tension in three years. Three years can feel like an eternity in youth ministry, but keep in mind you are moving forward. Sometimes you will get there before the three years, but if you can get there in a year, you’re not dreaming big enough.
- What steps get us there? Finally, once you start to establish the beginning and the goal, you get to fill in the middle. What changes do you start making now to help you get to the place you want to be? You don’t have to be there tomorrow, but you need to start taking steps toward your goal.
The bottom line when starting a new ministry is relationships. None of these changes take place in a vacuum. Spend time early and often building relationships and bringing others into the conversation. Genuinely listen to their input, and be willing to admit your own inadequacy in assessing. Get to know your leaders, your students, and your leadership. Seek out the Lord consistently, and listen to His guidance, and watch what God does through your ministry!