Don’t be afraid to fail.

These were the words one of our elders said to me before I got hired as the youth pastor. As this past year went on, those words slowly faded away. I got busy with our youth programs, planning retreats, and even doing the notorious LOCK-IN! As the year went on, our student ministry team noticed things were going really well. New students were coming every week, we had students stepping up in leadership and we saw several meet Jesus for the first time. Our student ministry was rockin! However, all of this growth lead to some issues. We were running out of space in our youth area. We didn’t have enough adult leaders to maintain the chaos that we call student ministry. Something had to change.

A few weeks later, our youth leaders sat down to discuss possible changes. As we sat in that room discussing all the possible options we could try, the phrase, “Don’t be afraid to fail” was stuck in my head. Is change scary? Absolutely! But the fear of failure often leads to stagnant ministries, so our team decided to jump out in faith, and try something new. We decided to divide our high school and middle school groups. This concept is totally new to our church. There were questions, and then questions, and then even more questions! Would this work? Will anyone show up? Do students even want this? People were relentless.

At times I wanted to back down, and say that we would keep things the way they were…however I knew God was calling us to something greater. So we pushed forward, and tried something new. “Don’t be afraid to fail”, became somewhat of a motto for our youth leaders. The kick-off for both of our High School and Middle School Ministries set records in attendance. God showed up in a bigger way than we expected, and we believe it was because we were not afraid to fail. Leaders, the fear of failure can be crippling. It can keep you still instead of moving you forward. Fear of failure can make you question your leadership capabilities. Fear of failure can make OTHERS question your leadership capabilities. On top of all that, the fear of failure can also put a lid on your ministry. It can hinder spiritual growth. It can hinder numerical growth. It can hinder families being restored, and relationships being repaired. Don’t put a lid on your ministry. Don’t be afraid to fail.

What is God calling you to do, that you are afraid of? Chances are, you have an issue that needs to be resolved. How will you handle that problem? Will you allow fear to control your decision? What in your ministry needs to be changed? Will you let fear hold you back? I hope not. Take that step of faith. Don’t be afraid to fail.

Alex Wierda  is the Youth Pastor at Central Christian Church.