3 Things I am Changing Next Fall

One of the crucial lessons I have learned over the years is the need for regular evaluation of how my ministry is going. There are certain times of the year when it is impossible to get a chance to “come up for air”, but there are some natural breaks in seasons that allow me to pause and evaluate. For me these seasons of pause tend to be:

  • Mid-November prior to Thanksgiving and the Christmas rush, (now). 
  • Mid-March just before Easter and a new Spring season. 
  • Late May / early June as we are slowing down and getting ready for the summer.-
  • Early to mid-August as we evaluate the summer and get ready for the Fall kick off. 
This year in evaluating the Fall, I concluded that there are three things I definitely need to tweak or change for next Fall: 
1) Simplify: This year we had too many things on the calendar as we started out the Fall. It’s not that we did not have the capacity to do all the programs and events, but it was our inability to give any one event a great deal of promotion. When we have too many things on our calendars, students focus will get lost. It’s better to “build” into the Fall rather than have a million things to focus on.
2) Do not make drastic changes in our programs until the Fall is well under way: This year, just 4 weeks into Fall we created an “Other Religions” series in our discipleship environment. It had incredible content and I had different volunteers stepping up to research and create material weeks ahead of their day to present. With this discipleship environment we usually have a 15 minute large group message and then break students into small groups to dig deeper into the passages / study. However, because we had so much content to get through each week, we decided to keep the large group together and have students ask questions and discuss the topic in the large group. Although this series seemed to work well, I believe it would have had greater effectiveness if we scheduled it later in the year. For me, my take away was this: Fall needs to be a time of building relational connections in our small group environments. While content is great in these kind of series, they are better used later in the year once we have established our small groups and students are settled and comfortable.
3) Begin Student Leadership Teams Later: It’s all about schedules and good promotion. We begin our Fall programs after Labor day here in South East Michigan. This Fall we literally had 3 weeks of promotion for student leadership team and then we started. Our numbers were lower than I expected and to be honest, I was a little disappointed. In the recent weeks I have had students coming to me asking if it is possible to jump into the team now. They have all said the same type of thing: “I had such a busy start to the Fall, this wasn’t on my radar until now, can I still be part of this team?”
So, there are three things I am changing / tweaking next Fall. Even after more than decade of doing this I have to realize that evaluation and change is always needed. It can be painful to realize when we have not quite got it right and have to go back to the drawing board. However, it’s more painful to keep repeating the same mistakes again and again.
What changes are you making this Fall? What lessons have you learned? What are you keeping? What do you need to add next Fall?
Phil <><
  • http://www.seventy8productions.com Jeremy Smith

    I love the idea of reevaluating your ministry. I actually shared my idea in last week’s VLog:

    I love all three tips and see the value in all of them. Thanks for a great share!

  • Phil Bell

    Jeremy, looked good. My ADD brain could not get past the airplanes flying around behind you. I guess you are used to it mate! :-)