What if Your Ministry Year Wasn’t What You Had Hoped?

Kara Powell

If you’re like me, as you look back on 2012, there’s much to smile about from a ministry perspective.

But there’s also a lot that didn’t go as you had hoped.

Perhaps you had fewer students show up at events than you wanted, or your new parent training initiative didn’t soar as you dreamed.

While I want change to happen quickly (just ask any of our FYI team members), the reality is that most change doesn’t.  Making changes in our ministries and churches normally takes two or three times longer than we expected.

Why?  Because change takes time, especially major changes. As we’ve discussed in our Sticky Faith cohorts, Harvard Business School faculty member Ronald Heifetz has written about the difference between “technical change” and “adaptive change”. Technical changes are those that involve a change in technique; adaptive changes are those that require a new paradigm.   Generally, the most important changes are adaptive.

This past week I’ve had some great e-mail dialogue with two churches who were in our 2011 Sticky Faith Cohort.   When we asked them at the end of 2011 to assess their experience with us, they gave rave reviews: “best training experience ever,” and “has made such a difference in our church.” It’s those sorts of reviews that are motivating a host of new churches to join our 2013 Sticky Faith Cohort (good news: there are still a few 2013 spaces remaining. If you and your church are interested, please fill out an online inquiry form today).

That was true in December 2011 to be sure. But as I’ve talked with them this past week, they made just as much—if not more—progress in making Sticky Faith changes during 2012. That’s because they are now seeing the results of the adaptive change seeds they planted 18-24 months ago.

So even if you look at this year and it’s not what you hoped it would be, odds are good that you are planting seeds now for amazing fruit in the future. May that thought give you hope as you wrap up 2012.


Published Dec 17, 2012
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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