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Fire and Forget Student Ministry

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I know from personal experience that many youth workers like myself are great at launching - but terrible at sustaining, checking the gauges and stopping.
I think we need to be great "sustainers" and "stoppers." When was the last time you launched a ministry and then forgot about it? Answer: last week. When was the last time you cared for something you launched with passion in September now that it's February? Answer: never.

I've wondered for a while why student ministries are so fad-driven and always looking for the next and best thing. I wonder why we are always intent on launching something new - we're almost charter members from the Cult of Newfangled. What about doing what you've always done better? What about a commitment to stop 3 things for every 1 you launch? What about sustaining and existing program and making it really work?

Makes me think about The Dip. We fight to launch something, we see short term gains then a painful drop. But we don't bother to fight through it to real success, we just let it die and launch something else the following weekend.

No more fire and forget youth ministry allowed here.


posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:46 PM |

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At 11/13/2007, Blogger Inspiring People. said...


Great post. I'm guilty of doing the fire and forget; many times. I think the reason many of us do this is because we love to initiate and create. Launching something new seems exciting and full of possibilities. It also fuels our ADD. I once read a quote by Peter Drucker that said, 'All great vision eventually dissolves into work'. I have come to value leaders that not only launch new things but commit to the hard work of sustaining the deal. I believe it takes a grittier level of leadership to sustain and push through the dip than to 'fire and forget'. Once we push through the dip, the rewards are very rich. Most often, significant life change doesn't happen on a broad scale until we push through and come to a place where the effort is sustained. Then when it is, it's time to roll up our sleeves again and push it forward to the next level. It's easier said than done. Thanks Josh for the great insight.
Scott Rodgers - LifeChurch.tv Mesa, Arizona.

At 11/14/2007, Blogger Tony Steward said...

I also think "how" we launch something can have implications on it sustainability. Joseph Myers had a very interesting teaching when he spoke at the Off the Map Live conference about church growth and sustainability - I think it came out of his book Organic Community (?).

His observation was that when a church tries to launch something as big as possible, for instance launching small groups but trying to have 'everyone' in a small group from the start, then that initiative is bound to fail because your resources and abilities to sustain that sort of response aren't up to the task.

He paralleled it to buying a house. If you buy a house at the top of what you can afford for the house, then once you get in it you don't have enough money for all the maintenance, utilities, and extra costs that you didn't know about until you are actually living there.

His advice, going back to the example of small groups, is to launch slow with a few small groups and make sure they are really well run and are great experiences for those involved. Then continue to grow as you learn what it takes and what the "costs" are.


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