When Change is Necessary. Part ONE: WHY

So I have been asked a few times recently “How do you know when change is necessary in your youth ministry?”  That is a great question, and not one that can be answered quickly. So I will try to answer this question from both personal experience and some general principles about change in a two part series.  Part One: WHY & Part Two: WHEN

Last fall (2012) we decided to completely overhaul our middle school ministry at Hopevale Church and change almost everything about it from name, to branding, to programming, to leadership, etc…  It proved to be an affective change.  I have fielded a few questions about this change that all funnel down into two big categories: 1) Why did you do it? & 2) When is the best time to do something like that?

So here has been my general take on it…

The first question I have had to answer is this: “Why was Change Necessary?

Here is my response:

How do I know if something needs to be changed?  Do I change something because I don’t like it?  Do I change something because it doesn’t make sense to me?  Do I change something because it has been a few years and I feel like I need to change it?

If you don’t know WHY to change something… then you won’t know WHEN to change something.  So seek to know WHY you want to change it first.

Now… before we get too deep into this discussion, I feel that you need to know 2 things about me:

1. I like change – It might be because I have moved from the West Coast to the East Coast to the Midwest in my life… or because I lived in 7 different houses/locations growing up…  I am not sure.  But I do know that I am not opposed to change in my life or my ministry.  I embrace change.  I like things to feel new and different.

2. I am strategic – I always have a purpose for doing things.  Random usually does not describe me.  I don’t think that I have ever been labeled “Impulsive.”  I am calculated when I move to do something or build something.  I try to think through every decision before I make it.

So, now you know that about me. phew… I’m glad I got that off my chest. 🙂

There is a reason why I share this: IT GREATLY AFFECTS HOW I VIEW CHANGE IN MY MINISTRY.

Before I made any changes, I made sure that I asked one of the most important questions: WHY DO I WANT TO CHANGE THIS?  If this was going to be change for the sake of change… then that was a BAD REASON to change it.

So I started listing off the reasons WHY it needed to change:

1. We were hiring a new middle school director with new vision  2. I had observed that our middle school students had not latched on to the vision of the current middle school ministry programming and branding  3. The timing felt right for a big overhaul 4. We were switching middle school venues  5. I felt like we could have a fresh start in our community 6. We wanted to give our middle school students an identity they could embrace at Hopevale.

One of the biggest things we did was to make sure in our changing things that we did not devalue the ministry of the past or the  leadership of the past.  In fact, it was that stuff that allowed us to move forward in creating our new environment.  One of the things I tell younger youth leaders/pastors is this: HONOR THE PAST.  I always try to remember that the things I think are bad ideas or programs in ministry were once someone’s great ideas… and one day someone will come behind me and think that my ideas are dated and terrible and come up with their own ideas.  So I need to make sure that in changing things I don’t tear down the past in order to make myself and my ideas look better.

Before you change anything… First, ask yourself the question WHY?

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