OK, so the question Fields wanted me to answer this week seems a little off the beaten path, I’m not sure how practical this will be for most. I’ll do my best.
So here’s the question: My senior pastor wants me to triple my ministry within a year, actually wants it to go up five times, but will settle for 3 times. Also, my admin assistant is incompetent and she’s the pastor’s wife.
I lost the actual question, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got it right. If not, email me: email@example.com and I’ll correct the error of my ways.
So, I guess the answer is that you’re pretty much ruined. Of course, that’s only from a human perspective, and fortunately we can rely on God to work something out. So why we (you) pray and wait expectantly for God to show up, what’s our (your) responsibility. Not sure why I’m writing in 2nd (3rd) person. Actually, I’m not sure which is 2nd and which is 3rd. 1st person is easy enough to remember because of halo 1-3.
First off, in this situation, I’d like to know the number of kids in your youth group. if you have 50 and he’s expecting 150, then you have a hill to climb. If you have 10 and he’s expecting 30, well, at that point I’d say stop whining. (just kidding, you didn’t seem to be whining.)
Let’s say you have 50 or 100, and he wants 150 or 300 students… there is a positive side to see here: at least you know what’s expected of you. Also, maybe the goal is secondary to the pursuit of the goal. Now, Rick Warren said something a few months ago that I really agree with (so i figure he’s pretty smart) (that was sarcastic, not even my colossal ego compares myself to him. Fields, yes. RW, no.)
Anyhow, the thing RW said was something along the lines of set huge God-sized, unattainable goals, and go after them with all the faith you can muster. in the end, you’ll achieve a lot more than if you set wimpy goals, and it wont matter if you don’t make it to the moon. (that’s actually an abridgement of about 8 things he said).
So, I say go after the goal with full gusto. Dream, plan, strategize… show your plans to your pastor. Show him the progress and the outcomes. Perhaps he feels like you don’t set high enough goals.
Remember, just about every pastor is very nearly the worst possible manager. Maybe he just read some leadership book, and he’s trying to create a BHAG that will impress Jim Collins, John Maxwell, or his leadership professor from seminary. Some days I think the government should censor leadership books. (reason #57 I’ll never be a good leader).
BTW: 10 months ago, when I came in to my new ministry, I was sitting in a meeting where a few dudes (pastors) were talking about B-HAG. I don’t mind looking dumb, so I asked, FYI: "big hair audacious goal." And yes, I did get the, "you must be dumb" look. I grinned like they were the village fools.
You mentioned that you have the largest youth ministry in your area… which is really cool. Don’t communicate to your senior pastor that you have the biggest group, it’ll look like you’re whining. While I don’t really know anything about culture, I think a bigger youth ministry will grow faster than a smaller one.
I don’t know anything about culture because it’s hard for me to care about things that change when the things that don’t change have so much more impact. the person who understands human culture may be cool and seem effective, the person who understands human nature will change people where it counts. Here ends my short rant against the futility of culture. Everyone is selfish and wants to be loved. Don’t give me this crap about truth and absolute truth. People in every generation and culture are healthy practitioners of self deception and self absorption. Ok, now my rant is done. Don’t spend so much time learning the language that you never say anything of significance. finished.
OK. Sorry about that. (not really) About the assistant, you’re in trouble. If she wants to be there, then she stays. If you can convince her or her husband that maybe it’s time for her to move on, then go for it. Sit them both down, and give a list of reasons why maybe it’s not the best fit. This could be a death sentence (if one isn’t already on your head). But, if everyone is mature, it shouldn’t be a problem. Do you think she’s there to spy on you? that’s a total drag. Do you know if you have her respect? If not, you’re in HUGE trouble.
If you really have the guts, ask your senior pastor why he gave you the huge goal…you may be able to say (if this is true, of course) that when you hear that goal, and you mix it with a little too much self doubt, you feel like you’re being set up for failure.
So, if this were a normal situation, I’d say there’s a LARGE chance you’re on your way out the door. If you love where you are at, and what you are doing, and don’t mind the humility that MAY COME from sticking it out, then I would do everything possible to win the respect of your senior pastor and his wife. Get her doing the stuff she’s good at (she has to be good at something), and try and find a volunteer to make up for her incompetence.
Tyler V. asked, “What do you take into consideration when evaluating your youth ministry as a whole? Any resources you that you use or recommend? How often should a youth ministry evaluate itself?”
Glad you asked. typically I’d answer a series of questions in the order they are asked, but I don’t think that’s the best way to approach this.
You should take only one thing into consideration: what is important? Of course, the truth is important, and so is wisdom. Therefore you want to make sure your ministry is biblical (which we tend to sum up the bible with the five purposes, but you can slice up the bible how ever you want as long as it’s accurate.) and you want to make sure your ministry is reasonable.
Going further, evaluation is as simple as comparing what is REALLY happening to what you would LIKE to be happening, the real vs. the ideal. This assumes you have an ideal (or vision, or mission, or strategy or insert some other John-Maxwellian leadership jargon.).
If you don’t have a clear vision and goals, then start with that. One of the many reasons why ideas are so much better than reality is that you can’t make sense of reality without ideas. So get an idea of what your ministry ought to look like.
Further still, here are two ways I have evaluated in the past, for ease of communication, I’ll call these (1) Quarterly Planning, and (2) Quarterly Measuring. First the easy part: I broke the year into three quarters: summer, school start to Christmas, January to school end. I’m not good at remembering the names of the months, and I don’t want to call these time periods trimesters because that reminds me of pregnancy. So, I have three quarters in the year where I do quarterly planning. (when I led the team, I called them ministry seasons.)
Quarterly planning is focused on the present and the future and takes the following into consideration:
PEOPLE: you, staff, key volunteers, volunteers, key students, students, parents/families (you’ll notice I left moron students off the list, since they are morons, you know where they stand and don’t need to evaluate them). If you make a list of all these people, and consider them by name: it’s really easy to get a sense of how they are doing. Try it, think of three people in your ministry and ask, how are they doing? you’ll hear something, trust me.
PURPOSES: For our ministry, we describe biblical with the five purpose words. Without going into specifics, I’ll take some time to consider each purpose and how it’s being expressed in the ministry. This part is really subjective because it’s really general, that’s ok. A few ideas may come to mind.
PROGRAMS: Write down each program, and grade it. You can grade it by what I already mentioned: is it doing what it’s supposed to be doing. In our context, we would say this: is it fulfilling the specific purpose and reaching the specific target that it was designed for?
PRIORITIES: Now some planning begins to happen, and I would consider, based on what happened the last quarter (ministry season or trimester), what are the goals or new priorities that need to be set. Priorities are situational and seasonal, but they should influence nearly everything that’s happening. Everyone in leadership should be aware of the priorities of the season.
PROJECTS: projects are a complex collection of tasks that aren’t routine or repetitive. That is the worlds most useless yet interesting definition. No one needs to be told what a project is, but it’s kind of fun to have a definition. Anyhow, at the turning of one quarter (season or trimester) into another, identify the projects that strengthen your people, balance the purposes, enhance your programs and achieve your priorities.
FYI 20-something youth worker: it’s ok to plan some things. It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor be hasty and miss the way. Don’t give me this garbage that it’s not your personality. Stop being so weak and start caring enough about the ministry entrusted to you by God. [Tyler, that's not to you...but to the guy who doesn't have an intentional bone in his body]
I typically put all of this in a single sheet of paper, and look at it every two weeks…now, I can’t put every student’s name on there…but I can put the volunteer leaders and the student leaders. Looking at everyone’s name every two weeks is a good reminder to pray for them.
For Quarterly Measuring, I do two things: objective and subjective. The objective is simply numbers… attendance, visitors, spiritual commitments, small groups, leaders, etc. These aren’t really helpful by themselves, you need a history…
Subjective evaluation is where I look at the attitude, performance, and fit of each staff person/key volunteer. Attitude measures their servanthood and humility and joy. Performance is their ministry skills and effectiveness. Fit is the chemistry with the rest of the team. Let me tell you, then someone’s not a FIT, it is a total and complete drag.
hope this helps.
…[Doug] mentioned that he had been watching Reno 911 while on the treadmill, that raised an eyebrow for me because I often struggle with what is “okay” for me as a more mature follower of Christ to do…I often struggle with what types of activities to involve myself with, or what kinds of shows to watch not on the basis of whether they are within God’s moral standards but based upon how others may view them….
Great question! (would I write that even if I thought it wasn’t? You be the judge.)
This is a difficult tension that must be solved for the mature: what does it mean to care about the perceptions of others? What is too much, what is too little?
There is, of course, no Scripture that directly relates to what are asking (and you referenced this in the part of your email that I cut.). Reno 911 isn’t in the Bible. You clearly framed this question to be about perception and not personal purity, so that’s the way I’m taking it.
BTW, One thing that’s particularly sad among Christians is when they answer this tension and then force and judge it upon others.
Additionally, there is no wisdom that also answers this question conclusively either. (For example, you don’t need a Bible verse to tell you not to jump off a three story building.)
Therefore, we are talking about a matter of the conscience, the kind of thing found in Romans 14 and 15 (and Philippians 3:15-16) . This freedom is a great fear to all legalists near and far. Control is wrested from their incapable hands and placed within the heart of the individual.
“BUT I KNOW how God will judge them! It feels so right to me!”
It is easy for the shallow to answer quickly and avoid this silent struggle of the soul. Consider this: Should you make your HEDGES too close, you run the risk of Peter who drew back from the Gentiles. In doing so he limited his influence and earned Paul’s rebuke. The opposite danger is there, I’m sure there’s a NT example of this, but none come to mind. (remember I’m not talking about purity, but perception)
So we are talking about a disputable matter. What keeps us from some form of relativism that I’m not smart enough to name particularly? Several Scriptures form the boundaries of the sandbox we get to play in.
I find Romans 14 and 15 to be a tremendous help in these areas. We are accountable to God, not to other people. Our accountability to other people comes in two lesser forms, the accountability that helps our spirituality, and the accountability that is required for the trust that a leader needs to lead.
Now the overseer must be above reproach (1 Ti. 3:2)
A leader in the church must be trustworthy and creditable. Without trust there is no biblical leadership. It’s hard to follow someone when you think they are sinning…you may be wrong, but you rarely think you are. Perception and assumption trump grace every time. When I do something I think is fine, but you think is evil, I lose.
BTW I used to think Rom 14:16 was about convincing others that your way was the truth, but that never fit the context. What is clear to me now is that we refrain so the weak doesn’t have cause to speak evil of what I consider to be good.
Who’s reproach are we avoiding? 1 Th 5:22 offers little help in discovering the balance: Avoid every kind of evil.
There is the unity of the Spirit, and unity of the faith. Look these up, they aren’t the same. All believers share the first, and in Heaven we’ll have the second. We are all a bundle of strengths and weaknesses that form a unique DNA for how we think and live and understand God. Because we have different weaknesses, what causes one person to stumble is easily conquered by another. Hearing cusswords in a movie doesn’t make me think or say more cusswords. (I could explain why, but that would make this long post even longer)
We must work to maintain peace, and not destroy one another because of our knowledge. The strong must take up limits so the weak do not loose trust and faith in the strong. This is why Paul became like a fool to some. While Paul was all things to all people, he wasn’t doing this to all of the people all of the time. That’s not possible.
The perceptions of others is a tricky thing. Paul said he wasn’t pleasing people, but God. Yet clearly he cared enough about some fools to become like them. Jesus was known as a friend of sinners, and we see this as a badge. But what about the people who said this about Jesus? Jesus wasn’t above reproach in their eyes, he didn’t avoid every kind of evil. The spoke evil of what he considered good.
I think it’s best to consider the perceptions and assumptions of the people you’re trying to reach, and conform to the world around you (assuming you maintain purity). Smoking in my context isn’t good. Smoking in many other places around the world isn’t an issue.
However, we are in the world, not of the world. We do not sin to reach the sinners. (although we often act as if this is true by saying that addicts are the best at ministering to addicts. Don’t narrow the comfort of God described in 2Cor…. That’s another day). As ambassadors of Christ, we are living in a strange land, but still hold to the customs of Heaven.
Walk slowly, meaning be deliberate with your decisions. Maintain your purity (which this answer isn’t about) and be sensitive to the perceptions of others. You’ll never be able to please everyone, but are you avoiding evil in the eyes of those you’re sent to?