My ministry provides me with a unique opportunity to talk with ministry leaders, children, teens, parents and volunteers in ministries to children and teens from churches all over the United States and even in other countries. Almost always, the person to whom I am speaking asks me how to handle a situation when they have knowledge that could improve the effectiveness and the impact of a ministry, but decision makers refuse to even give him or her a chance to really explain, much less do anything with their observations or ideas.
The reasons given vary somewhat, but there is always an undercurrent of fear from the person refusing to listen or entertain the idea of change. The saddest thing is that in the vast majority of cases, the person has valid concerns and/or great ideas that absolutely could have made a positive difference in the ministry concerned.
I will never truly understand why ministry and church leaders who claim to be passionate about helping children and teens get to Heaven (and in the meantime lead active Christian lives) refuse to do the very things that would make it more likely. Often the people who go unheard have special expertise and are even willing to do a good part of the work needed to make something important happen. Yet these leaders watch as children grow up in their church and aren’t faithful as young adults year after year – and still refuse to even listen to ideas that could change the dynamic.
Your ministry, your church needs to go on a real listening tour. You must make it clear that you are finally willing to listen and make meaningful changes. You have to reassure them you want to hear their concerns and ideas for change as well as pats on the back. You need to listen to everyone whose life is impacted by your ministry – including a cross section of the local community who don’t attend.
Will it be time consuming? Absolutely, but if you are truly brave…. if you listen well… if you heed wise advice – no matter who gives it…. your ministry, your church, the lives of those involved and in the community could be transformed in meaningful, positive ways.
We have created a free handout to help you conduct a listening tour. You can find it here on our website. If you want your ministry to reach its spiritual goals, to grow – not just in size, but also in effectiveness and impact – you must conduct a listening tour. Otherwise, you may never have access to the information you need to make changes your ministry desperately needs to make.