There are times in ministry when we can become stuck in a rut. Whether it’s the way we’ve always done things, or we just become complacent, it can be hard to make a change. Or we may want to change things up, but we struggle with where to start.

Today Nick and I will share some tips with you on coming up with new ideas, particularly for your student ministry. Brainstorming is a critical step in coming up with new concepts, which you can then evaluate for their viability and application to your specific ministry context.

Idea dump in an environment that encourages your creativity.

Set aside a block of time, go to a location that stimulates your creativity, and list every idea you can come up with. Don’t leave anything out, even the ideas that may seem “dumb” or impossible. Sometimes those ideas will lead to something even better. Don’t worry about evaluating your ideas, just get everything written down.

Consider your culture.

It is important to brainstorm within in the context of your ministry, community, and demographic. In doing this, you will be able to identify areas for success, eliminate concepts that are counter-productive, and find key ways to engage your ministry and the people you serve.

Don’t just replicate what everyone else is doing.

As you’re working on brainstorming, you may be tempted to look at what other ministries are doing and replicate their concepts. While some ideas may translate to your context, merely replicating someone else’s ministry formula will ultimately disregard  your unique gifting and ability to assess and direct your specific ministry. It doesn’t hurt to look at another ministry’s formula for ideas, but it is essential to evaluate them within your unique context.

Categorize your ideas.

After you’ve listed your ideas, categorize them based on your context. Compare your ideas to your missional philosophy and see where they might fit within your ministry. Use this step to consider where you would apply each of your ideas, and whether or not they would work for your specific context. Don’t be afraid to reconsider or eliminate ideas that won’t be applicable to your ministry.

Listen to your leaders and students.

It is beneficial to ask for ideas from others who have a vested interest and are actively engaged with your ministry. Bringing them into the process not only validates and encourages them, but helps to give them ownership of the ministry. We would suggest meeting with leaders and students for separate brainstorming sessions.

After you’ve collected each group’s ideas, compare them to one another as well as to your ideas, assessing which are viable and could be implemented within your context. It is also beneficial to keep both groups informed on what you are doing moving forward. This will help to further their buy-in and validate their involvement within the ministry.

List your resources and needs.

We can often be blinded by lack of resources which keeps us from seeing what we actually have. It is important to inventory your resources (i.e., your budget, supplies, personnel, venue, etc.). Be willing to think outside the box when it comes to your resources and look for additional options you may not have considered.

It is helpful to identify your needs so that you can ask for assistance in those specific areas and look to allocate portions of your budget when appropriate. Identify the skill sets present within your congregation and don’t be afraid to ask for people’s assistance.

Don’t be afraid to try.

Some ideas might seem great on paper, but after implementation, they may not work the way you hoped. And that is okay. If you don’t take a viable idea for a test run, you will never know if it will truly work within your context. Don’t be afraid of failure. You can always reevaluate, tweak, or scrap an idea and try something new.

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