Change has happened here too! I have officially accepted and transitioned into a Youth Ministry role at Houston First Church of the Nazarene. Which means over the last few weeks, I have picked up my life and moved across country. It was hard to say goodbye, because I love my students and the staff there, but my wife and I felt like God was speaking clearer to us about this move than we ever have before. So we took a leap of faith.
What we found is that God has gone before us. Both with the students back in Nashville, as well as the ones here in Texas. Regardless, change is hard. After just going through it, I would like to throw out a few tips for people who are in Middle School Ministry of how to transition well.
1. Let your students know over, and over, and over that you love them.
This move isn’t because you don’t love them.
2. Let your students know that you can’t ask them to listen to and follow God’s call on their life if you aren’t willing to do the same.
Leaders lead by example.
3. Tell them how much preparation has gone into who is coming after you.
Give that person your full blessing before you leave.
4. Don’t cut off communication with your students.
They have been in relationship with you the entire time you have been their pastor. Just because you have moved doesn’t mean that you aren’t their pastor anymore or that their relationship with you has just dissolved. Encourage the more “clingy” ones to build relationships with the new pastor. Don’t just drop them. The “clingy” ones are the ones that need to know that you love them whether you are there or not. It might take time. They are worth it.
5. Never set up your youth ministry to be all about you to begin with
If you haven’t set up a system to where you can leave without the entire ministry crashing, you haven’t set up your ministry right to begin with. If this was you, learn from your mistake at your next assignment.
6. Don’t assume everything that worked at your last assignment will work here.
Learn the culture of your new setting before changing everything.
7. Learn where your new sacred cows are.
Don’t just slaughter them all at once. You’ll start off your new assignment with more burned bridges than functional ones. There are probably reasons that they exist, even if they aren’t good ones anymore. Learn those, and address those concerns before cutting long-standing programs or activities.
That’s all I’ve got right now. I’m still in the midst of wading through this myself. If you have any more tips, feel free to add them below!
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