After 20+ years of being involved in children, youth, and family ministry as a volunteer, staff person, and consultant, I have found my three favorite words to be:
Intentional: Many times we gently ask for help and make suggestions when we identify a resource or way to implement something new in our settings. It's as though we are almost afraid of a negative response (and sometimes expect it) or become careful about stepping on someone's toes. Bottom line, if you want a successful ministry, you need to be intentional and move forward taking one step at a time to focus on your goals. Once you have gathered thoughts, prayed about it, and feel it is right, keep moving forward. Be intentional, set goals, and don't look back. (That'll come later.)
Expectations: After you have chosen the path, and set your goals, setting expectations is a good next step. If there are no expectations, there is a possibility of drifting off the path and rather than stay focused on the goal, negative feedback can shift the focus. Setting expectations doesn't mean to give an ultimatum, it means specifically asking that certain things be done and expecting them to be done. It's giving it a chance. For instance, if you are going to ask all small group facilitators to follow the same outline each time they gather, do not divert. Expect them to do it. And help them. Make sure training is in place.
Accountability: Check in time! It is very helpful to gather leadership teams on a regular basis to invite their insights and input to answer the questions: What is working and what is not working?
It is at this point you can openly discuss and share the value of helping everyone be on the same page. It allows a time to affirm that all are sticking to the expectations and giving them a chance.
I have found keeping these three steps in mind truly helps to build the ever important rituals and traditions that are key elements of faith formation for all ages. It's just the beginning of handing our faith to the next generation and in today's world, we need to understand the importance of this.
"Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
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