The Life of JaWS

A blog by Jason Sansbury

Monday, August 14, 2006

Leading Through Change

Four years ago when I arrived in Newnan, I never would have thought of myself as a leader of an organization. But that is the reality that anyone in ministry deals with; like it or not, you are a leader of an organization and you have a responsibility to do it well. So I have been working and learning and stretching and doing what my gifts call me to do.
So as I start at Bethlehem, some of the things that I have learned are playing out.

Don'’t confuse motion with movement. In one of the big lessons I learned early in ministry is that people like motion. They love to see a calendar that is jam packed with events, meetings, gatherings, Sunday school classes, etc. The general idea is that the more you have going on, the better you must be doing. But motion is dangerous…because it doesn’t necessarily get you anywhere.

If you want to move people and an organization forward, you have to be dedicated to movement, not motion. You need to be dedicated to a few things, do them well with excellence and know why you are doing them. Too many youth ministries fall into the trap of scheduling and calendaring all kinds of things with no real clear idea of purpose. So I am trying hard to help folks here see that we need more movement and less motion.

This week, our consultants from Youth Ministry Architects are coming and we are re-evaluating some goals, etc. that had been laid out. In my notes, the question "Why?"” appears beside quite a few things. If you were going to ask me what I am focusing on for the first 6 months, it is leadership development and Sunday night youth group. The leadership development is key. We have a ton of great parents that are investing in the youth ministry but they lack some necessary training and they lack a sense of community. So those are my two focus points early on.

Everyone has an agenda. This one used to drive me crazy but the truth of the matter is that it is just a reality. We all have agendas. I am coming in with one. (Full disclosure: My life call is to help students grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus so they can be mature adult disciples of Christ and change the world.) But it can be very frustrating when you have all those different groups pulling and pushing their agenda. And it is one of the most significant factors in getting overwhelmed and overscheduled. Managing those agendas is sometimes best done simply by being loud and vocal on what your one focus will be; it tends to get people on or off your ship, which leads to...

People are going to get mad and are going to leave. Even as I say this, I don't want to seem like I am happy or enthused about this reality. But the truth is that for some people, it is going to happen. In my past history, there are certain kinds of kids and families that are going to bail. If Vegas will give you odds, bet on these folks leaving...

Cool Kids. In the hierarchy of the teenage world, these kids are at the top of the food chain. Which is neither here nor there. But those kids don't deal well when they come to youth group and everyone is treated the same.

Families with really big agendas. Eventually, they will just get too frustrated with me and my head nodding, hand holding conversations that don'’t change where we are going. I appreciate people's concerns and interests but it doesn't necessarily mean I am going to change where we are headed.

The Social Club. Bottom line- if you want youth ministry to be closer to the YMCA (safe, shiny, good) than to a ragtag group of disciples (messy, open, dirty) then you usually won'’t be very happy with the kind of things that I do in youth ministry.

More later...


At 1:18 PM , Anonymous turff said...

Good stuff. One further note on your first point: movement doesn't equal progress. In the same way that your first point identifies the difference between chaos and coherent activity, this distinction identifies the difference between moving to somewhere you weren't before, and that somewhere actually being both where you wanted to be and somewhere good.

This is great stuff for me to be thinking about as I get my group going.

At 2:56 PM , Blogger :mic said...

Great thoughts! Even outside of youth ministry I can especially relate to the first point - even on a macro level of church life: so many times we think that if we are involved with enough programs and have a lot of *stuff* going on in our churches then we must be doing something great. But, as you so aptly stated, motion does not equal true movement.


At 9:47 AM , Anonymous Danielle said...


It is so good to read your words in the midst of our own transition- it is serving as a handbook as we begin to have to ask some of the same questions and evaluate programs!
Blessings to you in these days! We will be in touch!


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