Transition in ministry happens, and unfortunately it happens a lot! Youth pastors, directors, and leaders come and go often. Whether you are moving from one church to another, or you are getting hired into your first youth ministry position you probably have questions on how to effectively start this new position. I have started as the “new youth pastor” 3 times in my youth ministry career and I have definitely learned a few things. So, what things should you focus on when you start a new position?
1. Figure out the needs of the community.
Not every community, church, or area is the same. Find out what the needs around you are. This is crucial if you are moving to a new town or city, but it is also just as important if you move down the street. Every church and town has different needs and struggles, find out what they are.
Ask questions, be observant, have conversations, get to know people in different areas and find out what exactly are the specific needs of your new community.
2. Have a plan
One of the best things you can do is figure out where you are going and how you want to get there. Write it down and use it as a guide to help you on your way.
When you have a plan you are able to cast a cohesive vision and get people to buy into it. The buy in to the vision is the most important thing you can have when it comes to making changes and putting new things in place. But in order to cast dynamic vision and get people to buy in you need to have a plan.
If you have ever started a new position you know that you CANNOT come in and change everything right away. You need to have a plan and your changes need to be thought out and align with your plan. People often ask, ‘when is the right time to make changes?’ Honestly every situation is different, so I can’t give a straight answer on that one. But having a plan and following these steps will make putting those changes in place easier when it is time.
3. Get to know people
So often people ask what is the first thing they need to DO. My advice is this, quit trying to do and start getting to KNOW. The first thing you should do is build relationships with people. The change you make will be easier once you have built relationships with people. Whether it is students, volunteers, parents, or church members get to know them! One of the main reasons you are in ministry (or at least I hope so) is to love people, so began by practicing it.
4. Model your vision
Like I said, making changes right away may not go over well but when you model your vision in the way you act, interact, talk, and preach then people get it. Be authentic and real in the way that you interact. Don’t be someone you are not to try and fit in, and then all of a sudden change who you are when you try and put into place a new practice in the ministry.
What I mean is this, live the changes you want to make before you make them. For example, if you want your ministry to be more outwardly focused, talk about it, preach about it and live it so that when you put into place an “outreach” night people don’t freak out, they know what it is all about because that is you and they know you.
5. Love people
This may sound weird because of course you are going to love people, and hasn’t this already been said? But loving people is so important and it is so crucial to constantly remind yourself that that is what you need to be doing. I promise you that you will meet opposition in the changes you want to make. I promise you that you will meet some straight up weird people, and most likely some mean people as well. I promise you that you will be busier than you have ever been, and possibly overwhelmed at times, but that is why it is so important that you remember to LOVE PEOPLE and point them toward Jesus.
Starting a new position is NOT easy. There are many challenges that come with being the new person, and often times major feelings of being overwhelmed. But if you take time to do these 5 things it can jump start your ministry and make the awkward “transition” shorter and less awkward.