one of the interesting things about starting at a new place is trying to find the right balance between continuity, culture, and your own individual personality. on one hand you don’t want to overwhelm students or parents with a total overhaul of things too fast. it’s also helpful to spend time listening, learning, and just plain “being” to get a feel for what the culture is of your new home. however, sooner or later (and the sooner or the later become the question) the youth ministry has to take on some individual & personal feel associated with who you are. oftentimes i’ve heard a sort of “one year” principle thrown around…keep things as they are for one year, until you can get a feel for it all, and then start making changes at an appropriate pace.
before i continue, one note of clarification. making changes to align things more with your personality doesn’t mean simply pulling out your bag of tricks and putting it to work in a new place. instead, it has to involve a careful connection of the culture and community of your new locale combined with intrinsic pieces of you are, not necessarily extrinsic practices (programs) that you’ve done before.
at First Friends, however, i’m considering moving at a different speed. nothing had been planned or set up for the fall, so i already have a clean slate to work with (no cancellations needed). what’s more, there’s change occurring everywhere right now, due to a large staff turnover. while initially intending to wait for awhile before instituting any dynamic changes, i’m now planning on moving a bit faster (in about a two month time frame) with some changes, taking advantage of the current “ok-ness” there is associated with change. the Middle School youth ministry at FFC has looked pretty much the same since i was in it (16 years ago!), while a lot of culture has changed.
so…now the questions becomes what to change and why…