As youth ministers, we often serve as change agents. We begin ministry young, idealistic, eager, and often arrogant. We work in churches that have become disconnected with the culture in which they live and we know that they need to change to survive, much less fulfill their missions. We are on the front line of new ideas and creative thinking about how we can do church and youth ministry. We have big ideas, dreams, and plans for the future. And we beg, seek, desire, and yearn for…change!
Over the past month, myself and a few other pastors have been learning from Gil Rendle about how to institute change in a large organization. Every time we get excited and think that we know the answer to our problems, Gil reminds us to “hurry up and move slowly!”
The first time he said it I wasn’t sure what he meant. How can we hurry up and move slowly? How can two oxymorons form one statement that makes sense?

Hurry Up

Our churches and youth ministries need direction, vision, and a plan to help them share the Good News. We need those things now. Our small group has named the problem that our denomination is not sustainable under its current constructs. So we need to hurry up. There is a sense of urgency that something needs to be done to help us find a new way forward.

Move Slowly

But we don’t know the direction, the vision seems fussy, and the plan has not taken form; so we better move slowly. We must take the time and do our due diligence as we evaluate where we have been and, more importantly, where we are going. Jesus would remind us to count the cost. And if we don’t want to run ahead of everyone all by ourselves, we better invite others into the conversation so that we can move together. We move slowly.
In a world of microwave popcorn, instant pudding, and the Internet, moving slowly is a lost art. But what is lost in the conflict that arises in quick decisions? And what is gained by a commitment to the mission and vision of Christ that leads to agreed upon change?

Deep Change

So whatever you’ve got burning in your head and heart right now that must be done, hurry up and move slowly. The principles of deep change apply whether you are renovating the youth room, starting a new worship service, or introducing a new philosophy of youth ministry. Deep change implies a breadth and depth of buy-in from the organization or community. Deep change suggests that we will not be the same if we travel down this path. Deep change is hard, so hurry up and move slowly!
Here are some “hurry up and move slowly” principles to help you along your way:

  1. Know. Know what you are trying to do. Be able to clearly articulate the first or next step even if you aren’t sure where the path will lead you. You must be able to share in what direction you are headed and why.
  2. Invite. Invite others into the conversation. If you try to enact change by yourself, you’ll end up battered and bruised. If you have ever tried to row a boat by yourself across a calm lake with others in it, you know how hard it is to move even a small group with only your energy. Change rarely brings calm waters and the more people you hope to bring with you the more people who need to help row. Get others’ input and investment in the change so that you can have help and move together.
  3. Communicate. Begin to share your new idea or vision with folks in small ways in small conversations. Allow folks to hear the reasoning and justification for the change and the desired outcomes. You should know that you have the support you need for a decision before it ever comes to a vote or you put an oar in the water.
  4. Walk together. Move at a pace that allows those who have joined your movement to keep up with you. If you run ahead of them, you’ll either leave them behind and become isolated or always have to stop and allow them to catch up. But if you walk together, you can make decisions as you go and the path will not seem altered. It will just be the one you choose together.

So, if you are like me and have more ideas than you could possible initiate…then hurry up and move slowly!
How you have found these principles to be true?