We all have that one program, event, that we are running in which at some point it was held for a purpose but over time it just is what it is. It’s that thing in which you may have inherited or even existed before you got there but it’s still happening.
You wish it wasn’t, but it is.
If you were to get rid of “this thing” you would be as bad as if you preached on a Sunday morning about the book of Hezekiah in shorts.
I know what this is like. For the longest time, we had a junior high bible study on Sunday morning in which was a thorn in my side. It was sideways energy for our team, our leaders and it was attended decently. When I first brought up getting rid of it, you would have thought I said I worship Satan. But 2 years later, we were able to stop this program and focus on the things we know we needed to focus on in our program.
So, how do you do it?
Pray – Honestly, seems like a first thought but the last thing I would want to do is take away something that God is in and take away something that my pride wants to take away because I don’t like it. Be in prayer.
Make sure it’s worth the fight – If something has been around for a while, someone is most likely going to be mad. For us, our Sunday morning JH Bible Study was sideways energy for our team and for our leaders. We had a lot of momentum on Wednesday nights, our leaders were all about it as well. It’s not that they didn’t like Sundays, but it was a lot. For us, we knew we didn’t want students in another study, but we wanted them to do something.
Get volunteers on board – Because our leaders were doing both Wednesdays and Sundays we wanted to chat with them, obviously. We had pitched the vision and idea of starting small groups before service on Wednesday nights in order to get junior highers (and high schoolers) plugged into Wednesdays. Some back story: this study started a while ago with the intention of connecting junior high students with each other to get them plugged into Wednesday nights. Small groups before service will do just that and get students plugged in a small group before service and then attend service all together after. Leaders were on board.
Cast the vision… a lot – Know your vision. Tell it to everyone. Leaders. Parents. Leadership. You might know it and love it but people need to know the WHY, HOW and WHEN. Know all of those things front and back and say it a bunch.
Talk to your leadership – Obviously, if we were cut anything big we would need to talk to leadership. In order to change anything you need to pitch it in a clear way and to why you will want to get rid of “this thing”. If they say “no”, then you are to honor your leadership and maybe go back to the drawing board and come up with a clearer vision of why you believe you need to kill this program.
Push students to something in which aligns with the church vision – One of the biggest things I think allowed us to move in this direction was that we wanted to push our students to something in which aligned to our vision of the student ministry and the church overall. It would not have gone away if we just said we wanted to kill it. We wanted to push them somewhere else.
- One, we wanted to have students go into service with their parents because there is nothing more powerful for students than watching their parents worship.
- Two, we want them to serve. We want students to get out of another study and get into serving somewhere in the church. A majority of them have joined our children’s ministry and they have been doing awesome.
Both of these things help the overall vision of the church and was hard for leadership to say “no” too. They didn’t want to say “no”. Leadership loves when anyone can push the vision forward. Find out how to do that and the idea of getting rid of sideways energy gets easier.
**This post was originally on the Download Youth Ministry blog.
Justin Knowles has been a pastor for the last 10 years and is the Lead Student Ministries Pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. He oversees 7th-12th grade and has an amazing team he does it all with. He hosts The Other Student Ministry Podcast, loves to write about his ministry journey and teach at all kinds of camps. Him and his wife Kristin has a baby boy named Graham and a cat named CATalie Portman. @JUSTINKNOWLES3