I’m afraid.

And if we were honest, we’d all say we are afraid. A youth pastor’s fears are many. Fear of

  • trying something new
  • changing something old
  • retiring a volunteer
  • changing camps

and a host of other things you know you should do, but don’t because you are afraid of the backlash from parents, kids, bosses, etc.. This is completely understandable.

Maybe it’s because you’ve moved to a new church hundreds or thousands of miles from where you lived and you are now on a path where the fear of failure makes you throw up in your mouth a little. That’s ok, but the one thing you cannot afford to do is nothing.

Change requires leadership. The ability to make changes with the least amount of disturbance needs someone who is not afraid of change or a afraid to change things for the better. Are you that person?

Change through consensus. If you’re new to a youth group, don’t change anything for at least a year until you understand the rhythms of the church and city/town you are ministering in. The temptation to change things will be great, but don’t give into it. You’ll eventually have to change, but remember, its not what you change, but how you change it that will determine success and failure.

As the lead though, you are in charge and have to figure out ways to move forward with what God has placed on your heart. You have to lead from your convictions.

Changes takes time, don’t be in a hurry. Love is patient which means God is patient with you and so you can afford to be patient, if you are planning to be with your youth ministry long term, with the people you are leading.

It took me seven years to pull off a weekend retreat that did not involve taking our kids to a statewide event that they had done forever. We had an amazing time! But it all started with building consensus with kids and parents.

The key to breaking the neck of the fear of change is building momentum through asking key questions such as “What’s the worse that could happen”, “What’s the best that could happen?” or “What would it look like if we did not go to this but did this instead?”

Once you have some answers, instead of the nagging, negative ones you tell yourself, you can push forward with a clear picture of the change you want to make.

After you’ve collected all the answers to possible concerns, pitch your ideas for change, or something new, to the team around you including adults on your team, parents, and students. Build consensus rather than making wholesale change. Change without consensus is like jerking the steering wheel of the car and making everyone shift without warning. No one likes that.

Consensus building, on the other hand, is like rolling a pebble down a snowy hill and letting it snowball into collective momentum which will make the change happen quickly and smoother.

I have a rule, I try to include as many people on new ideas and possible changes. I try to expand the ownership of the change or idea way beyond me. If I cannot get the ownership, I do not make the change because I am setting myself up for failure.

The key to leading change is leading with positivity. Share the upside to the change(s) you want to make and how everyone can benefit. Imagine a snowball of team work and positive energy careening down hill crushing your fears as it goes. I love it!

Being positive will smack fear in the face and make it think twice before it rears it’s ugly head again. Putting the positive spin on change will allow everyone to see the possibilities rather than the downside.

Let’s also remember that fear is not a part of our spiritual DNA,

God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind – 2T 1:7

Lead from your convictions not your fears.

Lead as a team not a loner.

Lead with right information and positive energy.

I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that? – Soledad O’Brien

The real thing we should be afraid of?

Making no changes at all because of fear.

Name something you know you must change and build a consensus, ownership and a team around it.

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