Part 1: Where do I start?
You have a new vision for your ministry, and you’re fired up to make big changes. Who or what should you change first?
The best place to start is with the person you have the most control over: Yourself. Your leadership should not begin with speaking or attempting to change others, but by LISTENING to them.
Part 1, Question 2: Listen for what?
Primarily, you should listen for two things:
1. People’s longings and losses (the things that keep them awake at night).
2. Examples of Sticky Faith that are already taking place.
In order to implement Sticky Faith in your ministry, you’re going to ask people to make some changes. If you change people’s expectations too slowly, nothing happens. However, if you change expectations too quickly, it can cause a panic or even a mutiny. Listening helps you to understand those you lead, and to respect how quickly (or slowly) changes should be introduced. The following exercise is one way for you to practice your listening skills.
At the next meeting with your leadership team and/or parents, try this exercise (note: if you'd like help thinking about assembling a Sticky Faith team, see these ideas in part 8):
- Watch this clip from the movie UP. 1 While you watch, ask people to pay attention to Carl and Ellie’s longings and losses as they relate to family, health, and work/money. Then, spend some time discussing what each of you observed. It might be helpful to create a grid like the one below on a handout or whiteboard and write down people’s responses as they reflect upon Carl and Ellie’s longings and losses. Remember, this is not a time for you to teach, but to practice your listening skills.
- Next, ask members of the group to share about longings and losses in their own lives. Consider using the above grid again to guide the discussion. Depending on the group’s comfort level, it might help if you went first, or if you ask them to share some longings or losses of their friends or family. Also, be sure to listen for stories about either the need for Sticky Faith or examples of Sticky Faith that may already be taking place.
- Close your time of sharing with prayer. As soon as possible after the meeting, spend some time on your own reflecting on what the people in the group shared, and how that might affect the changes you hope to introduce.
Reflection questions for you and your team:
- Think of a change you’d like to make in your ministry. What would be your natural first step toward making that change? What would it look like to listen to others first instead, and how might that change the steps you’d take?
- When you hear people’s longings, how do you think you should respond? How about losses?
- How do you think listening for longings and losses will help you better be able to make the change(s) you’re dreaming of making?
- How could you use an exercise like this with the students in your ministry?
Resources to Go Deeper:
- Making Spiritual Sense: Christian Leaders as Spiritual Interpreters by Scott Cormode – Especially the introduction, for a more detailed explanation of longings, losses, and how Christian leaders can better relate theology to the things that keep people awake at night.
- Sticky Faith, Youth Worker Edition: Practical Ideas to Nurture Long-Term Faith in Teenagers by Kara Powell, Brad Griffin, and Cheryl Crawford – For current research on changes you can make to nurture faith that sticks.
Explore part 2 of this toolkit: How can I change the way people think about the mission of youth ministry?
- In the film, the clip begins at 7:14 and ends at 11:35. ↩