If youâ€™re like us, it takes you 45 minutes to spill all of the details of the 60-minute workshop you attended that changed your life last week at a youth conference. Inspired by it, you lay out a vision for your youth ministry for the next five years. The volunteers sit there like a deer in the headlights; then one of them timidly raises her hand, â€œSounds like somebody went to a youth worker conference last week,â€ she says.
It happens! Sometimes at an incredible event we come down with a case of Letâ€™s Change Everything Syndrome (LCES). If youâ€™ve ever had LCES, you know the temptation to overhaul every aspect of your ministry in the first five days after you get back. Beware of the side effects: volunteer abandonment, blurry vision and upset supervisors.
Post-conference excitement is natural, and thereâ€™s nothing wrong with the desire to make changes when weâ€™ve been exposed to new ideas. But LCES can do more harm than good. Here are a few tips to avoid it.
Pray about what God is asking you to do.
Sometimes after reading an incredible book or hearing an inspiring speaker we think about what we want to do as a result or what worked for them instead of what Godâ€™s voice is clearly directing. The only way to distinguish between competing visions is to spend time with God and ask for his vision. Usually taking some time to process, decompress, and pray are the best steps to hearing from him after youâ€™ve been exposed to new ideas.
Wait for the right season to change.
The right time for changes is typically not the Spring or the middle of Fall (which, coincidently is when lots of training events happen). Think strategically about when to bring about significant changes to your ministry. Lay an infrastructure for the move to small groups all summer long; then release them in January. Prepare your volunteers for the junior high/senior high split at the start of the school year this Fall, rather than eagerly announcing it out of the blue tonight at youth group.
Start with one thing.
Reflect in your Moleskin journal or iPad app on some of the biggest things you learned at the event, or conversations you were inspired by. Make a list of everything that is considered an â€œaction stepâ€ and prioritize them and map out a 1-2 year plan of action. Update it occasionally as you retreat or receive additional training and insight.
Keep a dialogue going.
Donâ€™t make changes in isolation! While the church might not have been able to send your whole volunteer team to an event, take the time to share your â€œone thingâ€ with your spouse, your volunteers, or student leaders. Once youâ€™ve taken the ball down the court, donâ€™t be afraid to rally support and analyze it to make the ideas better and increase ownership.
Any learnings you want to share after coming home from a youth worker training event?
This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter.Â Subscribe to SYM Today right here.