It’s the beginning of a new month, and the weather here in Southern California is desperately trying to change from the long, hot days of summer to the crisp warmth of fall. The change of seasons can bring very unpredictable weather. You don’t have long to get accustomed to one weather pattern before it jumps to another. It reminds me of growing pains; jumping from one extreme to another. It’s exciting yet painful all at the same time.
The small disability ministry I helped start at my church is going through a season of growing pains. It’s been truly exciting to see more people develop a heart to serve our special needs families. I have several new volunteers just itching to get paired with a child on Sunday mornings. It makes my heart explode to think of how this will serve not only our special needs kids, but how it will change the hearts of our volunteers!
Then reality strikes.
Engaging new volunteers means coordinating more on-boarding and training. It means more oversight and volunteer care. My excitement suddenly turns to anxiety as I try to figure out how to get everything done while maintaining my full-time job.
Growing pains may also include letting go of an old system and casting vision toward a more efficient, effective way of doing ministry. This may not sit well with certain volunteers or families you serve. I’ve had some difficult conversations in the last couple weeks as we try to implement change. And there has been some turnover because of it. People don’t’ like change and will fight it when it comes. I found this blog post from Irresistible Church very helpful in preparing for those hard conversations. Check it out if you need a little guidance!
If you find yourself in the midst of growing pains, here are some things that have helped me get through this painful part of our journey that I hope encourage you:
1. Pray through every decision.
It can be hard not to be biased towards the plan you have or the way you want things to play out. But by bringing your plans before the Lord with a heart that wants the best for the families and volunteers you’re serving, God will give you peace about the best path to take.
2. Seek regular council with leadership of your church.
Having a regular meeting on your calendar with someone in leadership at your church that can speak into your ministry is essential. You may be the disability “expert” but the leadership have been placed in their roles by God. They can provide prayer, encouragement, and direction when you are trying to make changes in ministry. It’s can also be helpful to have a pair of eyes outside the situation to bring some clarity.
3. Don’t shy away from making the more difficult or “unpopular” decision.
God has placed you in this position at your church for a reason. You have a certain gifting and skillset that will help you make wise decisions for the health of your ministry. Others may not like it, but if you bring love and humility to those conversations then you can be confident that God will work in other’s hearts.
Please be praying for my ministry as I navigate through our growing pains. Pray God is glorified in our actions. If you are going through a similar period in your ministry, I’d love to be praying for you as well! Feel free to leave your prayer requests below.
Rachel Roleder serves as the Manager of the Cause 4 Life, Global Missions and Internships Department at Joni and Friends. Rachel enjoys learning more of God’s design for His church as she leads teams of interns on disability ministry outreaches all over the world.