by Mark Entzminger/ May 8, 2015
“Leadership is the art of disappointing people at a rate they can stand.” — John Ortberg
Leading any organization or ministry through change can be a difficult task. Your volunteers might not be interested in adapting to your processes and strategies. Parents might question your decisions. These are all real challenges that we face as children’s ministry leaders—difficult challenges, but not impossible to overcome.
The end of the spring semester is a time when you may be starting to think about how you can change and improve your kids’ ministries for the upcoming fall. Today, I want to provide three practical ideas you should consider before you make any major change to your kids’ ministries.
Three Things to Know Before You Make Major Changes to Your Kids’ Ministry
If you’re thinking about making changes to your children’s ministry, here are three things I’ve learned from personal experiences and conversations with others over the years:
1. Bring others into the process. The best way to get “buy in” is to make others a part of the decision-making process. Include key leaders, influencers, and the most trusted volunteers and parents in the discussion. Ask their opinion on the changes you’re thinking about making. Share the vision behind “why” you’re making the changes to help them understand your reasons rather than setting yourself up as a “lone ranger” leading your ministry the way you want.
2. Plan to change over the course of time and have it all laid out before you begin. Don’t just make changes immediately. The last thing you want is for a parent or volunteer to be overwhelmed or surprised by the drastic changes in your ministry. Instead, lay out a plan for how you can incrementally roll out changes. Once you’ve identified the changes you want to make, establish a timeline for how you can make gradual changes over the course of the next two to three months. Not only does this help volunteers adapt, it ensures that parents aren’t shell-shocked as they would be if your ministry completely changed its strategy from one week to the next.
3. Know when to share and when to own. If you have done the work of listening to others and then leading in the direction you know is right, you must own the outcomes. You may have to make some difficult decisions that nobody will like—that’s the cost of leadership. When change goes well—share the victory. When change is difficult—own the responsibility.
Making changes has the potential to invigorate your ministry or to alienate some of your biggest supporters. Make sure you include others and make changes little by little in order to help others adjust to the changes and embrace them.
Do you have any of your own tips for implementing change? How have you achieved it?