7 Steps to Bring Change in Student Ministry

In a few weeks we will moving our main middle school program to a Sunday evening overlapping with our main high school program. Primarily, we are trying to be 1) family friendly by giving parents of both middle school and high school, one evening to bring their students. 2) Free up space in our new facility 3) Enable busy midweek students, (sports, school etc), the opportunity to attend. 4) Recruit more volunteers to work with students who could not make a midweek night, but could make Sundays. 

However, although there are many more excellent reasons for doing this, my experience (and yours too perhaps), tells me:  I cannot shortcut a process to get students, parents, and volunteers on board with changes. Let me list and give a little understanding to how I have brought about this change in our ministry. 

1) Sense the need to make this change: Any potential changes I see must come through prayer and leadership intuition. Seems basic, but how many times do we want to make changes because another church is doing something different or someone else says we MUST do it?

2) Start Early: I began this process back in October… Don’t underestimate how long you need to organize a big change, and don’t underestimate how much time people need to process change…

3) Gather specific reasons and information: Before I gave the idea I gathered information.  Here’s what I gathered:

a. Online survey of parents: “What’s best night for student ministry program”: 84% said Sunday was best. IMPORTANT: Although surveys are great for getting hard facts, do not discount how important surveys are for building ownership from parents. 

b. Surveyed students who did not attend our midweek program: Most are busy on Wednesdays and prefer Sundays. About another 20% could make a Sunday

c. Talked with potential leaders over the last year who kept telling me Wednesdays were tough to make. I had a list of about 10-12 people.

d. Talked to existing leaders about potential of a Sunday night: Most liked Sundays… 

4) Have potential change conversations: As I began to gather this information, I started to have conversations with leaders, parents and students about the potential of this happening. It was important to use the phrase, this might not happen, but it’s possible… I find that these conversations are pertinent to getting people open to the idea. 

5) Present solid facts: After these potential conversations, I found a number of forums to present facts based on what I had learned from surveys and conversations. These forums included email, website, facebook, newsletters and up front announcements. Obviously I met with my pastor and volunteers to talk specifically about what I had discovered. 

6) Present vision: While facts and information are great for getting people to see a need, they mean nothing unless there is vision of betterment for students. As I discussed and communicated with students, leaders and parents, I kept on communicating how students lives would be impacted: 

a. More students could come, b. more leaders could volunteer and invest time in students, c. families win back a night together if they have middle school and high school students.

7) Prepare Leaders: My final step was to meet with leaders individually and together as a group to plan and get their input on the changes. It’s important that I set them up for success and allow them to give ideas and input. I have to admit that I will not cover every detail and I must rely on good leaders to see potential issues or come up with better ways to do something… 

That’s how we are doing it for now. I will post later after the change has taken place and share what went well and what we missed… No matter how well we plan, we will likely miss something… BUT, it’s better to take good steps toward changes than take none… Hope this helps…

Phil <><


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