Carey Neuhoff is a prominent church-life thinker of today. His team produces amazing, thought-provoking content almost daily to both encourage and challenge those involved in faith-based organizations. His blog last week spoke of asking good questions to help narrow the navigational beacons of focus for a new season. These were really good questions. Here are the five he wrote and how I’m processing them in the context of ministry with families as a professional Christian educator:

How much of the current change is permanent?
Huge numbers to any special event isn’t reasonable, but setting the table for more small groups is building more intimate, lasting, helpful Christian friendships.
Sunday mornings aren’t the only day and times I’m getting traction.

What do I have permission to stop doing?
Kid drop-off VBS and camps were not fruitful for growing my church before 2020 yet multi-generational experiences for the whole family throughout the year and the week is indeed setting the table for inviting friends into Christian community and growing my church today.
Operating in a silo. Better together is the better ministry.
Accepting the first NO.
Scheduling everything around a full school year. I get a better response when the seasons are in 60-90 day planning blocks.

What would I do if I was leading a startup? (Be still my heart!)
“Existing organizations that behave like startups will have a much better future than organizations that don’t.”
“Old models rarely do well in new eras.”
I’d roll out Family Ministry (multi-generational ministry) on a discipleship pathway to move disciples of all ages from rows into circles, from high chairs (being spoon fed) to wearing aprons (serving from the overflow of discipleship), and rediscovering the historical practices of holy habits in new rhythms of life.
I’d roll out content and material in small bite-sized pieces, over time. Drip, drip, drip into buckets which leak a little, slosh a little, and require a little more intention to help God’s people live in a world which has always been against the things of God.
“People during a revolution often don’t realize they’re in the midst of a revolution.”

Where are we seeing real momentum?
Followup question: Momentum about what? Just filling seats or starting/building new relationships-in-Christ? Status quo or ‘going back’ is NOT Momentum.
“If you want to get your mission going, fuel what’s growing, not declining.”
Where I’m getting traction for new families? Scout badge clinics; Family VBS in the summer on Thursday nights in June; Tuesday PM Bible Study for kids when parents are in one-hour Bible study; Project managers for special events; Popping into neighborhoods with an ice cream truck or dance party; Collaborating multi-generationally with developmentally appropriate pieces; Offering participatory discipleship and worship; Teaching in small groups; Loving on one another in community rather than by program.

How will I find a sustainable pace?
I don’t really know. My congregation is on fire for trying new things, but the systems in place that should be resources and support are not. Lots of distractions, bad habits. For example: I was a jerk at last week’s lead staff meeting. My response to the kindest person in the room was not my best moment. Here we are a month away from Christmas and the expectations for me and my team set last October-before-last (Live Nativity ‘cuz booking animals is an over-a-year-out thing) and January (Campfire Christmas on Eve’s Eve specifically for kids to invite neighbors) were about to change and I was guarded. I was guarded based on the last thirty years of children’s ministry experience where the best laid plans over the course of the previous eleven months were about to be ‘added to’ or hijacked. I pushed back to guard my heart, my mind, and a sustainable pace. Ugh! I don’t like having to be guarded. I definitely don’t like being a jerk. A reasonable, sustainable pace I’m working on, but it’s probably going to cost me.

Patrick Lencioni, the great author and pioneer of organizational health writes, “Every team will experience bumps in the road.” I feel like I’m off-roading a lot of the time. Lord, tapping the brakes is not an option. Too many little people and their bigs need to know you are enough. So, let me know when I’m to let off the gas and when I’m to put the pedal to the metal.

“So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.” Exodus 13:18