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Until you get fired…

… you won’t change. 

… the pain of doing something outside the box outweighs the ease of trying to make the box you’re in prettier.

… those sacred cows are worth feeding, watering, and printing new t-shirts for. 

… it’s about the depth of your relationships and not numbers. 

… you think you don’t have the power to do anything within your system.

I get accused of stuff or labeled as stuff all the time. “Oh Adam, why do you keep saying stuff isn’t working?

Because it isn’t. Look at the numbers, gang. Youth ministries who are making a measurable difference regularly go back to the drawing board and are doing something deeply rooted in ethnographic study/research/innovation. Youth ministries who have been statistically flat for long periods of time typically only do minor tweaks year-to-year.

But let me tell you this simple truth that I hear over-and-over-and-over again from people: It all changes as soon as you get fired. 

I mean, “asked to resign.”

It’s amazing how much clarity getting canned is for so many people. All of a sudden they get it. “I should have been doing things very differently.” Well, no duh. All of a sudden planning that mission trip for 14 students doesn’t seem like it was worth 300 hours of your time in research, preparation, fundraising, and travel, does it? All of a sudden, in the swirl of emotional fallout comes the realization that you could have, should have, and now have to live with the regret that you DIDN’T do a lot you could have done.

Make today different. Don’t wait until you get fired to act. Today. Today. TODAY. 

  • Begin a process of smart, measurable, statistical analysis of your ministry. Get outside help if needed.
  • Begin a process where you do more than read blogs about culture, but do ethnography for yourself.
  • Begin a mindset that looks for solutions instead of a solution.
  • Begin a mindset that allows ministry to adolescents to go beyond things that you can directly oversee and participate in.
  • Allow yourself to re-think resource assessment to the assets of your community, not just stuff you have keys to in your pocket.

There is unlimited talk in our world about the future of youth ministry. Let’s be reminded that in order for each of us to find that future in youth ministry we need to act now.

Make today the day. Don’t get canned.  

5 Responses to Until you get fired…

  1. Tony Myles June 25, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    “It all changes as soon as you get fired.

    I mean, “asked to resign.””

    Mr McLane – thank you for my hard, full out laugh on that. :) All too true.

    • Adam McLane June 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      Yeah, sad that it’s the way it is… right?

  2. Scott June 25, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Adam- Thanks for your post. Do you know where someone like me (Student Pastor at a mid-size church) can find some resources to do a ethnographic study of our community? I have been serving in my current church for a couple years and now believe it is time to make some major changes in the way our student ministry is structured. As a result, I believe this study would be an invaluable resource, not only in determining how that should be done; but also in “selling” the changes to the powers that be.

    • Adam McLane June 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      I did a little google search and found this gem:
      http://www.ehow.com/how_6196652_do-ethnographic-research.html

      Not to plug myself too much, but one of the main functions of the Good News in the Neighborhood group curriculum is a big group ethnography project. We’ve gotten some great feedback from groups who have not only done it… but learned a TON.

      • Scott June 26, 2012 at 6:48 am #

        Adam- Thank you!

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