How To Roll Out A New Program At Your Church

After working with thousands of ministry leaders over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that it is not uncommon for leaders to struggle with rolling out new things to their teams. I know that has certainly been the case for me in the past as well. It is easy for us as leaders to get excited about something that we know can help our team greatly. Unfortunately, most of the time this excitement leads us to roll things out without a proper plan. 

This can be incredibly frustrating. You know this new program, initiative, or tool will greatly help your team, but no one else seems as excited about it as you are. You’ve sent out invites, but no one seems to be responding. More often than not, this causes you to lose the initial excitement and abandon the new initiative after a couple of weeks or months. 

This is the experience of so many ministry leaders and because of this they feel stuck. They want to make changes that will help their ministry grow, but feel like they’re in a rut. This is a completely normal experience, but you’re not doomed to stay in this rut forever! Let’s walk through this together and come up with a plan to roll out something new for your ministry — without the frustration!

You’re Always Going To Care More

This one is painful for us as ministry leaders and one that is often hard for us to fully wrap our minds around. The truth is, you are always going to be the most passionate person about your ministry. You think about it all day. Your team likely only thinks about it once, maybe twice per week. Would it be great if everyone was as bought in as you? Absolutely! Is it likely to happen? Probably not. 

I was talking with a pastor recently about my church planting journey and he reiterated this advice to me. He mentioned that this is the thing that can bring the most feelings of insecurity to us as ministry leaders because it feels like we’re failing to truly lead our people. Yet, he also said something else that was deeply encouraging. He mentioned that while others are not going to be as bought in as you are, it’s still worth celebrating when someone does take a small step toward grabbing ahold of the vision and mission. 

This reality needs to be at the top of your mind when planning to launch a new initiative. You’re going to be the person that cares the most about this new change. Most people are not going to understand why it matters or why it is needed. And even if they do, they’ll likely not going to care as much about it as you do.

Rolling out a new initiative without taking the time to help people understand its importance is an exercise in futility. It will always leave you feeling like you’re not making progress. But, by understanding this reality, you can plan for it as you roll out new initiatives. People aren’t going to be as quick to buy in, so you’re going to need to plan on a rocky adoption period. No matter what you’re rolling out, it’s not going to be as easy as you think and it’s not going to be a silver bullet. It’s going to require a plan and a bit of hard work, but in the end it will be worth it!

Your Track Record Matters

It’s time for another hard truth. Here’s the truly frustrating part about trying to roll out something new. Your ministry team remembers all the times that you’ve attempted to implement something new only to see it fizzle out after a few weeks or months. I know, I know, this time is different. You don’t have to tell me. The problem is you are fighting an uphill battle that is not easy to win.

Changing culture and implementing change is tough work. Your team is going to remember all the things of the past and you’re going to have to work to convince them that this time truly is different. This starts by acknowledging the previous truth that you’re going to care more. Once you’ve understood this, it becomes easier to create a plan to truly make this time different. But, the question remains… how do you do that?

Cast A Compelling Vision First

I promise this part will be encouraging. The first two sections have brought some tough realities, but now is the fun part. Now we get to figure out how to roll out something new and have it stick. Knowing that people don’t care as much as your do and that your track record matters, it becomes obvious that you’re going to need an effective plan to create lasting change. 

This does not start with the new initiative, program, or tool. It starts by casting a compelling vision. In order to unite people around a common goal, they need to know where they are going and why they are going there. This is the foundation of vision and mission. Vision helps people see where they are going and mission help people see why they are going there. 

In the church that I am planting, one of the first things that I did was seek the Lord about mission and vision for our new church. These things are foundational to everything that we do as a church. Here’s what our mission and vision look like:

Mission:

City Church exists to help people discover the fullness of God and what it means to live in authentic community.

Vision: 

City Church will be a family for the radical men and women who recognize that what the world and Christians call radical is normal, biblical Christianity.

A family for the unloved, the broken, the fatherless, the poor, the untouchable, and the ex-criminal where they can experience God’s love in community and be treated with love.

A family where men and women risk everything to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ and invite them into our family.

These simple statements are not just something that we have in our governing documents, but they are our foundational truths for everything that we do. As we recruit people to our launch team, we start with these two aspects. When we get ready to launch small groups and our first worship gatherings, we will start with these two aspects. 

Mission and vision give your people a jumping off point for all new initiatives in your ministry. When people understand the mission and vision of your ministry, they are more likely to follow your lead in adopting new things. They’re willing to try something new because you’ve shown them how it relates to where you’re going and why you’re going there. Without connecting initiatives to mission and vision, people just see it as another task or something that will fizzle out. Mission and vision are exciting and work to motivate your team to take a next step because they’re bought into what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

If your team already has a mission and vision statement, start to integrate it into everything that you do. Remind people of it often and focus everything in light of these two statements. Mission and vision are not just statements, but are things your team will live out. Your primary job in leading your team is helping them to become bought into the what and why so that you can work effectively toward those goals. 

If your team doesn’t have a mission and vision statement, then now is a good time to develop them. Here’s another resource that we’ve created to help you develop your own mission statement.

It’s Not Too Late

Chances are if you’re reading this post, you feel a little conflicted. Not because of the information, but because you’ve already rolled out a new initiative and it hasn’t gone as well as you had hoped. You get that you should do the things we’ve discussed here, but how is that going to help you with your current initiative?

It’s not too late for your current initiatives. If you’ve recently launched something that hasn’t quite gone how you wanted it, then it’s time to come up with a plan. Sit down with your team and explain that you understand that their struggle with the new thing in your ministry. Acknowledge that you haven’t done a great job of explaining why it matters and how it’s going to help achieve your ministry’s mission. Acknowledge past failed or abandoned programs. This will help you to build rapport with your team and they’ll be more willing to listen to the pitch.

After you’ve spelled those things out, take some time to share how this particular initiative helps your ministry to achieve the mission and vision. Share why it is important and how it’s going to help your ministry take the next step in making a larger impact. 

Your people need to be led, they’re not going to naturally get it. As a ministry leader, you’ve been given the task of leading your team. It’s certainly not always easy, but it is worth it as you help your team rally around the mission and start to see the vision become a reality. Don’t be discouraged by past results, you can start fresh and create a new track record!

Scott Magdalein

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