Well, I jsut sent this e-mail out to all of my adult leaders. This is after the worst attendence night I’ve ever had here in Romeo. I’m posting it here because I want others to see that I am not perfect… although I post some pretty nasty things from time to time… my poop stinks too.
Working in ministry has been the hardest thing I have ever done. On nights like this I can honestly say that I would rather work as a stocker at Wal*Mart. In the past few weeks it has been clear that the harder I work, the worse things have gotten. As my e-mail mentions… this will send me on a path of self-discovery. I need to wrestle with my failures and ask God… is this failure the result of something you are doing or is it the result of a sin in my life? Anyway… here’s the letter.
Hopefully you are all on your way to bed now. But it will be a longnight for me, let me explain why.I am completely and totally devastated by how poorly LF is going the last two weeks. Not only is there no one there, but enthusiasm stinks and the “group love” feel that I relished only a few weeks ago is adistant memory.
I don’t like working this hard and seeing such pooroutput… for some it makes them want to quit, but for me it makes mewant to succeed more. I want you to know a few things right off the bat…
– I may be discouraged and frustrated… but I’m not giving up.
– I know the habit at Romeo is to check out when things start to go bad… I just want to point out that we need to set a new trend for everyone else to follow… we shouldn’t check out when things get rough… we should put on our hard hats and get to work!
I’m not a mystical person at the core. While I know some of this could be a God thing… I recognize that there are some things I can do tomake sure it’s a God thing. So I’m not ready to accept “perhaps thisis what god is doing at Romeo” just yet. (Sounds like the talk tonight, eh?)
Numbers aren’t everything, but I am a fervent believer that numbers do indicate some things. The reality is that tonight was the smallest number of students in the past 15 months. By my count, there were only13 there. More than that… there is a certain smell of deflation inthe air.
How many would have been there tonight if there parents hadn’t made them come? I don’t think I really want to know… it would make me apply for a job at Wal*Mart in the morning! (Just as an indicator tohow far we’ve gone downhill… a year ago in September we averaged 38students.)
Let’s look at some factors.
– Students have homework or are involved in sports or otherwise busy
– Van kids can’t get there
– Parents lacking enthusiasm for life at Romeo is trickling down to
– Students are making choices among the myriad of “good things” and right now… we aren’t it.
– on and on and on
A simple observation (and you can make the same one with adults at\church) is that students are no longer looking for ways to make sure they are a part of LF… instead they desire to find excuses to not come. The excuse is the symptom of a much deeper issue.
Did you know that there are several students who are begging to NOT come? Did you know that at least one 9th grader is going somewhere else? I know for a fact that the Skomski girls would come if only someone would go pick them up. These are things that we can do something about… let’s not forget that.
As I reflect on this ugly problem I realize that there are some things that are the fault of leadership. (e.g ME!) I am seeing clearly that there are some environmental things that have surfaced that make it clear that we aren’t as healthy as we thought we are. We need to get back to basics and get better at the things that worked so well last year.
– I’ve clearly over-invested in the core at the cost of the group. This has resulted in a clique feel to LF… great if you’re in the clique… terrible if you feel outside of it. As I’ve tried to talk people into this weekends retreat it seems everyone has “something to do” but that’s all they are saying. (In other words… they don’t want to come!) This weekend will be a big part of stearing this clique away from “clique-centeredness” and all about reaching out to the group… I’ll be seeking to breaking the clique up into a mad crazy group of floaters. This will hopefully develop into a “clique with an attitude!”
– I’ve taken your tasks away and made your job too opaque. I can clearly see that you all need something more tanglible to do both on Wed. nights and in your contact work. I’m going to make it simpler for you. I am assigning students for you to contact on a regular basis.” Something as simple as saying “hey… this is Dave and I haven\’t seen you in a while at LF… how are you doing?” would open up a world of conversation. The reality is that people want to be missed and we’re not missing them!
You’ll notice that the core of students isn’t on anyones list… we all love Autumn, LisaB, Andrea, Jon, Michael, and Ted and we have completely spoiled them with attention. Believe me, they will get the attention even without being assigned to anyone. Everyone only has a few students each… you will figure out a way to hook up with them weekly. Maybe it’s a phone call to check on them, maybe it’s that you seek them out on Sunday AM to chat… but we have to do this… and we have to start doing it now! Please don’t skip on it… a little labor will go a long way. Do it on your commute! All of that stuff I’ve given you should be applied to these students… invest in them and I promise you the dividends.
– I’ve gotten so involved with my own contact ministry that the reason you pay me has gotten muddled… to people outside of the core it looks as though golf is all I care about. (Did you know that at least one deacon and another board member thought it was a job? I’ve never made a cent off of it and I don’t want to.) I’m not sure how I’m going to work this… but with 3 weeks to go in the golf season I’m seeing that the price has been too great this year. As much as I love it, and as many fantastic things have come out of it… it still comes at a high cost. It’s unlikely I should continue past this year.
– I’m calling a parents meeting fora Sunday in October. I meant to do this as soon as school started, but it’s gotten pushed around. Parents need to be on board with changes we have made as well as the simple nuts & bolts of what is going on… I need to be better at communicating with them.
I want to end this with the good news. The good news is that we know LF is a good ministry. This is without question. We know we are teaching truth and God has used us in the recent past to change the lives of students. I recognize that if we get ahead of this problem now… and really all focus to get it back on track… that this can be a real turning point for what God wants to do in Romeo. God wants to use these students as an instrument of seeing many students come to faith in Christ… and I know you all want to be a part of that. (So there’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!)
Have a good night. I think I can sleep now.
p.s. One last thing. I really need you guys to be honest with me. If you’ve observed something that I haven’t covered… especially about me… I would like to encourage you to let me know. I can see that I need to reflect on some things and change some of the ways I am doing things… but your feedback is important to me. thanks