Often our ministry is dramatically affected by two things we don't control. But, we must be aware of them and address them.
WHAT THE MINISTRY WAS PRIOR TO OUR COMIMG TO LEAD IT AFFECTS THE CURRENT MINISTRY.
You might say, "I've been here long enough that isn't a factor.". I had led the ministry at Arkansas State for ten years when someone got up at a meeting to voice a criticism of our ministry....that happened prior to my coming...ten years previous to that! We either stand on the shoulders of our predecssors or in the hole they dug. Here are five ways the previous ministry affects it now:
1. Reputation - You may benefit from a great reputation...or, you may suffer from a negative reputation. If it is a negative one, you must realize that and take steps to address it. Do you know what the general reputation of your ministry is on campus? Events on campus and advertising are not just about an event...they are about reputation.
2. Expectations - If the ministry has a history of being highly successful, it puts pressure on you to demonstrate the same level of success. But, students tend to perform at a higher level when that has been the expectation. If your stye is different than your predecessor, you must help stakeholders and students understand your different approach and why.
3. Type of Students Drawn to the Ministry - The style and personality of the leader affects the type of students drawn to the ministry. It may be that your style of ministry requires a different type of student leader than has previous led out. Then, you must be purposeful in connecting with those students. You must love the students who are already there while connecting to those who respond to your style and vision.
4. Budget - What has happened in the past and how it has been done is a factor in what the current budget is. If your ministry requires a larger budget, then you must demonstrate a vision for that size budget.
5. Attitude of College Administrators - If the ministry you lead previously had an adversarial relationship with those who literally hold they keys to the campus, you must work at developing a positive relationship. They must see it is a new and different day.
WHAT OTHER MINISTRIES ARE DOING
Whether it is fair or not, our ministry is affected by what other ministries do and how they do it.
1. No other ministries may mean a wide open door, or it can mean there is no realization or sense of need for what you are offering. You must completely plow new ground.
2. If there are one or more booming ministries, your ministry may suffer in comparisons that students make. Fair or not, students will compare,
3. You must develop your ministry's personality and find the niche that your ministry fits and the students with which you can connect. But, don't succumb to the temptation to copy the booming ministry. You will most always fail.
4. If other ministries have a negative reputation such as being confrontational or judgmental in their style, students may assume that is true of all campus ministries. You must work at demonstrating yours is coming from a different perspective. Bad reputations of any campus ministries affects all of us.
4. If another ministry is being particularly effective in one area, you may need to find another way of doing it. Or, your ministry may need to focus on another area. There are students who are not being reached no matter how large and successful other ministries are.
Our ministry never functions in a vacuum. We are affected by the past of our ministry and by the present (and past) of other ministries relating to our campus.