Summer is Time for Considering Change


By Shawn Kiger

I often use summertime as a chance to evaluate how the school year went and what changes might need to be made for the next school year. This summer that task seems a little scarier.

I just finished up my fourth year as youth minister at my current church. The last couple years our numbers have dropped for our afterschool ministry at the same time our numbers have gone up for our Thursday evening Bible study. There seems to be lots of reasons for this, but mainly there are just more options for afterschool activities at the schools. Our youth also really enjoy our Bible studies we do in homes. So I’m considering stopping our afterschool ministry that has operated very successfully for many years but has experienced decline in the last couple.

Stopping something at church is usually very difficult. Parents have come to count on this program, volunteers have worked it into their busy schedules, and youth just don’t like change (it throws them off sometimes when I set the tables up in a different configuration)! There are many questions I am wresting with:

  • How do you judge when it’s time to stop something so that you can start something new?
  • How much am I willing to risk on the something new?
  • What is that something new?
  • What are the gaps in our ministry now that the something new needs to fill?
  • Will stopping this just make people mad?
  • How do I communicate the change and the reasons for the change?
  • Where can I fit in something new in my busy family life?

Those are just a handful of the questions running through my head. I don’t have answers to all of those questions but I am glad I have the summer to work on them. The summer is going to give me the opportunity to talk with parents, youth ministry volunteers and other staff members. During our mission trips I will have lots of opportunities to talk to our youth and to hear their thoughts and share their needs. I’ll have conversations with other youth ministers from other churches to get their thoughts. I’ll take time to listen to parents. I’ll talk through it with my pastor.

Any kind of change is hard, but without taking the time to evaluate what you are doing you risk being stagnant and less effective. I know this blog post has lots of questions and not many answers. Sorry about that; but I do hope it will encourage you to evaluate your own ministry. Or maybe you are just happy you don’t have to make major changes like me!