Day 2 at the Youth Ministry Leadership Exchange was packed with amazing content. It all started off with several sessions on the topic of change. It’s something with which many people in student ministry are familiar, but we don’t always do the best job of implementing it and/or navigating it. So, Doug Fields, Charles T. Lee, and Virginia Ward gave us some great advice.

As I did with strategy yesterday, I’ve narrowed down some of the highlights below.

First, Doug Fields talked about how it becomes much easier to make changes the longer you are there and the stronger your relationships are with your senior leadership. Then he shared several other thoughts about change.

  • Many/most people will naturally hate change because: Change is connected to risk, risk is connected to failure, and failure is connected to fear.
  • There is pain that comes with leading through change. And if you can’t manage pain, you’ll never be an effective leader.
  • Change often requires more time than you anticipate. Make sure to ask the right questions before and throughout the process. Some examples of good questions are:
    • Do I have relational equity (time) in the bank?
    • Have I given enough time to my vision?
    • Have I given enough time to the thoughtful answers to my critics’ questions?
    • Have I taken time to secure 1-on-1 buy-in from key leaders?
  • One way to introduce change is to phrase it as an “experiment.”
  • We need to constantly pray with passion about change. A clear example from the Bible is Nehemiah, specifically chapters 1-3.

Next up, was Charles T. Lee. He spoke about how we should start by identifying the product or problem that is the root cause of the needed change. This will lead to developing the right plan to address it. In other words, begin by asking: What is the (real) job to be done?

  • Charles suggested a process for implementing change, which he also blogged about on his own website. I encourage you to read his post, but I’ve included the main points:
    • Framing the challenge
    • Seeing the unseen
    • Leading divergence
    • Converging into design thinking
    • Rapid prototyping
    • Iterating forward
  • It helps to know the psychological reasons behind why people struggle through change. Two things we looked at were The Gartner Hype Cycle and The Kübler-Ross Change Curve. Both help to know what to expect when integrating and leading change.

Virginia Ward was the final speaker on the topic of change, and she spoke about talking to the animals – metaphorically, of course. Not only do we need to address each “animal,” but we need to identify the lead one in each area if we are going to make changes.

  • Elephants: Things we don’t want to talk about.
    • The elephant has an overstated value that is not shared with the rest of the team.
    • Don’t ignore the elephant.
  • Dinosaurs: Things we won’t change.
    • Dinosaurs act like what worked then will work now.
    • Don’t feed the dinosaur.
  • Ostrich: Things we can’t see.
    • The ostrich misses opportunities when its head is in the sand.
    • Don’t act like the ostrich.

Reggie Joiner then closed that topic with a great thought: “You tend to change when the pain associated with not changing becomes greater than the pain associated with change.”

Change is rarely easy, at least from my experience. But if it is something we know God wants us to do, we need to lean upon Him and implement it in the best way to make it easier – again, not easy, but easier.

Where are you with leading change in your ministry setting? Do you feel supported or all alone? What has helped you get better in this area? I’d love to hear your comments!

For all my posts from YMLX 2018, click here.


One thought on “Navigating Change in Church & Student Ministry (YMLX 2018)

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