In Mark DeVries book, “Sustainable Youth Ministry”, he writes “If, instead of coasting in contentment, the youth ministry reengages in bold dreaming and engaging innovation, the seeds of fresh, new life can be planted in the ministry.” (p. 72) I believe that Mark is right on and this can be a big problem area in ministry and our personal lives. When we coast, we stop creating and looking for ways to tweak and improve good things that are already happening. It is when we stop creating and innovating that we ultimately lose the edge we have at reaching teens for Christ in ministry and going deeper in experiencing Christ personally.
But creating and innovating is not necessarily the norm and easy to do. It is something we have to fight for as, in all things, it can be very easy to coast. For example, life is going well, just keep on doing what you are doing and coast. Your friendships are going well, so just keep on doing what you are doing and coast. Or ministry may be going well, so again, just keep on what you have been doing and coast. It is when we get in these mindsets that we start becoming ineffective in our personal and professional lives.
For example, some ways that coasting can negatively affect our personal and ministry lives are:
- You have been friends with someone for a long time and fairly recently they took up an unhealthy habit (i.e., over drinking, over eating, smoking, etc). Instead of saying the hard word, you coast by not saying anything and watch your friend deteriorate in a self-destructive habit.
- You are in a good place right now with finances and a solid working environment so you coast and do not seek to improve who you are at all. Because you coast, when a change in working environment (i.e., new Senior Pastor) or a financial struggle comes up out of no-where (i.e., car accident), you find yourself stuck in a situation where you are not able to get out of easily.
- Your ministry is going well and have students coming to know Christ and are being spurred to love him more. So, you coast and continue to do what you are doing with no improvements to programs, strategy or leadership. Because you coast and do not seek to improve what you are doing when leaders stop helping or when numbers decline a bit, you are not prepared to deal with changes.
So, we have to fight to innovate and improve who we are and what are ministries are. For example, some things you could do to not coast are to:
- Educate yourself with a seminary class, seminar, or other masters level course to help you be more effective youth minister
- Have an outside parent or youth minister come and evaluate your program so that you can seek ways to improve what you are currently doing
- Be on the lookout for new leaders. Come up with a potential leader list and start planting the seeds to others that you are interested in them being leaders for you.
- Set goals in ministry and your personal life so that you can continue to strive towards excellence in Christ.
As I said, these are just a few examples. Many more are out there. One of my goals for 2010 is to never miss a quiet time with the Lord. This time would not be something that I can just check off the box, but it would be a time where I spend time in prayer, listening, reading scripture, and meditation. As I have experienced a spiritual battle this past year, I know that if I am going to survive and thrive, I need that daily time with the Lord.
Because everyone benefits when we don’t coast, TAKE A MINUTE and…
- Examine your life and your ministry. Look what you are currently doing and set 3 goals so that you can do to stay on top of your relationship with Christ and ministry. Then, strive towards them. It would be best if you had someone to hold you accountable to them to keep you focused and on course.
If you have some ways to create and innovate in ministry and your relationship with Christ, post them so that we can all benefit.
Tom Pounder blogs very often at www.notamegachurch.com and has been featured in several guest posts when Josh is on vacation or is just plain lazy.