Change is an explosive word, especially for churches. If you want to make people angry, simply suggest changing something. The mere mention of changing something causes heads to explode. For example, a minister can say something like, I think that we should put chairs in our auditorium rather than the pews. Pop! Pop! Pop! Heads exploding everywhere!
So is change scary, sure enough. It is also necessary. It is so easy to become stuck. Doing the same things over and over is so easy. I am extremely tempted to simply copy my events calendar from this year and apply it to next year. After all, most of the stuff worked fine. Unfortunately, ministry does not work like that. Like many student ministries, my group has completely transformed as new students have entered and the seniors have left. They are at a different level spiritually, emotionally, and socially. So I have the choice, stay the course or evaluate.
Evaluating your ministry will keep you alive, or at least will keep your ministry alive. Sounds serious, I know. What you are saying if you never evaluate activities or programs in your ministry is that you are right all of the time and could not possibly do anything better, ever. You are also saying that there is only one way to do things and you have miraculously discovered it.
S0 let’s just decide to evaluate. How are we going to do it? Glad you asked. First, start with a clean slate. Set the sacred cows free to roam, erase the calendar, and tell tradition that you are the boss now. Next, get a vision or goal. It is likely that you have been doing things because you do those things. Stop thinking like that. Start thinking about what you want your students to know, look like, or be like when they graduate your program. Ask God to shape your vision for your group. What is important to you? What do you want your program to be known for?
Once you know your focus, you can start brainstorming. When evaluating our gathering times and programs, we put it all on the table: Sunday morning small group, weekday small groups, Wednesday small groups, Sunday night worship, Wednesday night worship, Sunday night small groups, groups in homes, groups at the church, groups at coffee houses, worship in coffee houses…you get the picture. Know your options, and do not be tied to what you have always done. Do what is best for your students’ discipleship and salvation.
Now figure out a way to make this happen. Can your plans be implemented? Do you have the resources? Will people buy in? And now we have an important caveat, that while change is important, it also can take time. Immediate change in programs or even philosophy will cause heads to explode 99% of the time. Instead, come up with an implementation plan. Take small steps to get to where you want to go. It is not more spiritual to commit change abuse. If you want stronger discipleship, you might start with new curriculum, then new teachers, then new groups structures. Also, if you cannot communicate a convincing and motivating reason for changing something, go back to the drawing board. Change can be scary, but when done correctly, it honors the calling that God has given us and keeps most heads intact.