How Do You Know When It's Right to Add Something New to Your Ministry?

Kara Powell | Apr 11, 2012

Are we doing this because it’s better?

Or because we can?

These two questions in a recent blog by Seth Godin, brand and marketing guru, immediately caught my attention. Our team at FYI is constantly asking if/when it’s time to offer some new resources or research for youth leaders. As a youth leader, I have often wondered the same. Should we offer a girls retreat, and guys retreat, this year? Do we do two summer camps, or one?

Of course, the #1 force that I hope guides those decisions is God’s leading. But I can’t always figure out if/when God is leading us to start something new.

That’s why I appreciate Seth’s advice in his blog (he talks about “market” and “brand” but we leaders can substitute the words “students” and “ministry”):

If you extend your reach because you can, because you have market power, you will probably be doing your existing customers a small service (centralized support or billing or just one less person to deal with) but your brand doesn’t increase in stature. You had a chance to bring some of your original magic to the table (after all, it’s that magic that got you started) but all you did was bully the competitors out of the way.

On the other hand, if you extend your brand because the new offering is better, magical in the way you can make it magical, then you’ve dramatically increased not just your market share but your perception as well.

I love the advice to avoid doing something new because we can, but rather because it’s better than what we’re already doing. So as you and I contemplate new projects, it seems to be that we have to be ruthless and ask the following questions:

  1. Will this help reach students, families, and our community better than what we are currently doing?
  2. If so, what will we cut to make space to develop this new idea?
  3. As we’re developing this idea, and after we experiment with it, how we will be able to assess if it’s worth continuing in the future? In other words, what are our desired outcomes, and how can we tell whether or not we reach them?

I’m guessing that like me, you’re tired of adding either too much or too little, and you’re tired of adding and not subtracting. May these and other wise and prayer-laden questions help guide our next steps.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.

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