At the start of every year churches seem ready to start something new. The New Year brings a new season in your ministry rather than more of the same old routine. Perhaps there is a ministry that was needed last year that you didn’t have the energy for or perhaps there wasn’t space in your program to start something new. With the New Year comes new energy and we all think we can take on more projects. So if you find yourself thinking this way this post will help you through the process.
With over 10 years experience in ministry consultancy, most people underestimate the time and effort it takes to start a new ministry. Many ministry leaders hope to get something started with a few weeks preparation when really it takes months to prepare for a new start. Recently I was reading a 2012 strategic plan for a church which included plans for a start up ministry in 2014. In ministry we have to cautious of being inspired to start a new ministry on our holiday and hoping it is fully running the second week we get back.
As many of us begin our ministries after the long summer holiday break, here are a few tips to starting something new in your church this year:
- Narrow the focus – once you start planning to begin something new everyone wants to be included more than you had planned so you have to keep a narrow focus. So a new junior high ministry shouldn’t include senior students as participants. The new music team should also double as a bible study. Don’t try to bite off too much when you first start a new element within your ministry; you can always broaden the focus later but it is harder to cut back as you launch.
- Prepare, Prepare, Prepare – there is such a tendency to launch something and work out the details later. If you don’t prepare fully then you won’t be ready when you launch which will turn visitors off. When we were starting a junior ministry in one of the churches we took six months to prepare even though we had 20 young people ready to go. We needed time to prepare the first six months of talks, themes and research appropriate activities.
- Ride through the dip – six months into every start up the ministry hits a dip in numbers or energy, perhaps due to a lack of money, leaders or participants get bored. What will be the dip in your ministry? Seth Godin in his book “The Dip” believes that most start ups fail because they don’t know how to ride through the dip; those that ride through the dip are the ones that succeed. Perhaps your dip will come in six weeks perhaps it will come in two years but you must ride through the dip in energy and numbers to be successful.
- Marketing is important – In his book on Church Marketing, Richard Riesling says that marketing is managing perception. With any new element in your ministry you have to manage the perception that others have of what the ministry is about. In the start up of our junior youth group we called it Blaze to evoke the image of a faith that is on fire for God; and we didn’t mention or offer pizza even once. Mange the perception of your new venture so that people know this is long term and not a flash in the pan idea.
- Who will lead it when you are gone – perhaps you don’t need to answer this question before you begin unless you are planning on leaving within six months. But from the very beginning you need to start training and preparing your replacement. In fact sometimes other leaders won’t put their hand up until you are a success so start anyway.
- Have fun – starting a new ministry is a lot of work but it is so much fun. Everyone gets excited and there is so much enthusiasm towards something new. Enjoy this time and have fun serving your ministry.
It is important for us to be looking ahead to see how we can start something new this year that will meet the needs of people next year and into the future. We can’t wait until our current programs fizzle out before we look to the horizon to see what is next. Perhaps this year is a year of transition for you and your ministry, I hope and prayer that God leads you where you need to be.
Please leave a comment about how you have started a new ministry.
markoffaith, MarkofFaith, mrmarkmcdonald, Mark McDonald, markoffaith.net