Many people schedule a health exam or annual physical at the end of the year or in January just to make sure they are aware of any potential issues. Have you done an “Annual Health Exam” of your Young Adult Ministry? Some indicate they do not do regular exams because they are afraid of what they might find or learn. Their philosophy is: ignorance is bliss. But, the problem with “ignorance is bliss” in terms of health or looking at the health of your ministry is that treatable issues and problems can progress to the point of no good options.
How healthy is your young adult ministry? Here are some suggestions for making an assessment. The first part of a good exam is honesty, so how would you classify your ministry at this point?
THRIVING – It is growing and there is a real sense of a movement of God in the midst of what we are doing. It is not perfect, but the positives far outweigh the concerns.
STABLE – While we are not experiencing any major growth, we continue to see good things happening in the people connected to our ministry. There are some concerns but not anything we feel we cannot manage at this point.
STRUGGLING – It seems there is way more work and effort going into the ministry with little that seems to come back in return. If we are honest and look at numbers, we are in a state of decline and have been for a while. There is more negative than positive.
ON OUR DEATH BED – It is just continuing to exist out of habit. There is no joy in the ministry and the few that are involved seem to have no interest or desire to see it revive. They are just keeping “the death watch”.
So, what’s the prescription? If your ministry gets a health report of “struggling” or “death bed”, what do you do?
Here are five suggestions for bringing health back to a struggling ministry:
- Have one or more listening and talk back sessions with the young adults involved.
What do they see and why? If it is a church ministry, have a listening session with some church leaders. What is their dream and desire for the ministry? Are they willing to go to bat for something new?
- Consider a new start.
Maybe it is time to change up the schedule and do a totally new thing. Bring an end to what is happening and start something new. It may be that a new time and day will help. But, if it is dead, don’t tweak! Make it obviously something brand new.
- Enlist new leadership.
Often new faces in leadership bring a new energy and different ideas. When leaders are in the midst of a struggling or dying ministry, it is hard for them to maintain their own sense of direction and sense of God’s purpose in it. New leadership can join with the former leadership or give the former leadership another place to serve. But, make sure they do not feel blamed for existing issues.
- Honestly look at and evaluate your meeting place.
Place or facilities say so much about who and what we are. Consider changing meeting places completely. Rent a space. Or, totally change what you have with paint and a whole new set up. Invite someone who has a great sense of taste to come in and look and give suggestions. After we have been somewhere a while, we no longer see what others immediately notice.
- Spend significant time building into a few young adult leaders (and it might just be one or two).
Find a few who have the desire to see where God might take this ministry in a new day. Invest in their personal growth while you dream and pray together about where God may be taking you. As they become excited about the vision that is developing, it will likely begin to spill over into some others.
Arliss Dickerson served as Baptist Campus Minister at Arkansas State University for 32 years and serves as Leadership Development Consultant for the Collegiate Ministry Office at Lifeway. Currently, he’s the Interim Collegiate Minister at First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Arkansas. He is a husband, father, grandfather, growing believer, and poor but improving golfer. He loves collegiate ministers!