I actually launch ministries and programs well. I really do. That said, I have had my share of misses along with my successes and I coach people regularly who don’t launch well and never recover. I am incredibly excited about the upcoming year at my parish because as I write this, (almost) everything is in place. Here are the top three areas where I, and folks I know, often miss when getting ready for kick off.
Failure to Have a Plan
I know you. I was you. I’m a process-over-plan kind of guy. I think it’s better to have a consistent way you do things and just stick to it. I never felt the need to plan out details because “What if they CHANGE!?!” Forget that noise. Plans change, and processes are essential, but you need to get every detail you can out to people as soon as you can. Use things like calendars, registration forms for weekly and annual events (with good simple descriptions), and a plan for how you are going to announce a shift to school year programing.
This takes us to failure two…
Failure to Communicate
I don’t care if you go year round. I don’t care if you always do your kickoff or welcome back night on the same night each year. I don’t care if you’ve been doing it for 20 years. When your ministry starts back, you need to do a full court press on getting the word out and on telling people how to get information from you in the future. The first helps people show up the first time, and the second one keeps them coming. In addition to registration forms and a calendar, you need to have a plan for how you will communicate with people and they need to know what that plan is. I would recommend a one page electronic and print sheet on how your ministry, or parish, communicates to folks. BTW I personally love Flocknote as a tool.
Failure to Invite Others In
I get it. You make announcements. You put it in the bulletin. You guilt parents. You may get lucky and have someone move in to the parish. However, most parish youth ministers I know are not modeling an attitude of active invitation to their team. You need to be two-on-one when inviting people to be on your ministry team. Two-on-one meaning 1. You and 2. a current Team Member (or parent or youth) need to be approaching parishioners all the time about how they are growing their own faith, and how they might be called to serve in youth ministry. It’s essential that you do this regularly with your team members and let them lead the conversation in part. It will help them to get comfortable and know their role for inviting others into ministry.
I’m going to talk more about this next month in a post, but it really is one of the biggest failings I see in ministry.
These are all huge things, and you can note that content is not in them. I think content is huge, but if you don’t know what you are teaching by now, you have bigger problems. As a bonus, here are three things I am doing this year, and have never done before, that I am so excited about.
That may sound odd, but I am asking my pastor, staff, and some other leaders to join me in a Mass of Atonement for areas of ministry where we have ignored God’s will, held control too tightly, or hurt folks. We do this all the time as Church and we need to own it regularly.
All ministry leaders, over the course of three weekends, are being commissioned and blessed. Not just youth ministry. Not just faith formation. All of them. We are entering ministry together.
Stepping Way Back
I am not assigning myself a set spot this year. I have a couple of teaching dates, but I am putting myself in full flex position and having others step into things I have loved doing for the last three years. I am forming and supporting them, but I don’t have to be there.
Some of you launched a couple weeks ago, and some of you are still a couple months off. I would love to hear from you about where you are struggling, or where you are being fruitful in the comments below, or online.