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What is that one item you would be at a loss without? First thing that might come to your mind: your computer, your car, your phone. I know the one item I could not live without … our microwave! Heating or reheating food would take forever. Ain’t no one willing to wait 10 minutes to heat up a Hot Pocket! Thankfully this is merely a theory and not a reality.

Other than making you hungry, thinking about life without a microwave is an opportunity to illustrate a point I recently learned about our middle school ministry and my leadership. I have been at my current church as the Middle School Pastor since early 2016 and I came into a student ministry that had 7 youth pastors in 10 years. Needless to say, the culture of the ministry was not an easy one to tackle. However, here are three truths I learned in the first two years about culture and the time it takes to cook up:

1. Keep Cookin’!
You’re armed with your recipe (aka your vision) so just keep cooking with the vision you have for your ministry! You’ll be tempted to jump ship, change direction, or get rid of leaders that seem slow to catch the vision, but expecting your vision to have immediate results is like trying to cook a whole turkey in the microwave! Living out the vision and the culture change it creates takes more time.

2. Stick to the Recipe.
When I came on staff I met with my leaders to cast vision and provide direction. Of the 20 or so leaders we had, you know how many came to hear the new guy? Four. But you know who caught the vision and let it stew? The four who showed up. And now, they have the recipe and are cooking up their own meals. We were able to personally invest and impress on them the direction the ministry needed to go. Now those leaders who have seen the passion and vision first hand are grabbing ahold of it and are sharing it with our new leaders. Those few saw it, let it stew, and now they are cooking too.

3. If They Doubt Your Cooking, Prove Them Wrong.
I will forever remember the day one of my leaders shared her first impression of me when I came on staff. She said she was just counting down the days when “this joker” would let them know that this was just a season before he moved on to “bigger and better things.” But six months, a year, two years went by and I was still there casting vision, investing, and discipling students with them. With 7 youth pastors in 10 years, there was something missing in the ministry and ultimately the culture was broken. What the leaders didn’t realize was that I was committed and willing to get my hands dirty, do hard things, and invest in them as well as our students. Once they saw my passion and commitment for middle school ministry, they wanted to help establish the new culture with me. The leaders have been the lifeblood of changing our culture, but first they had to understand my heart, commitment, and vision.

I had a vision and a direction for our ministry that I wanted to see in place on day one. However, it wasn’t until two years in to the ministry that I began to see my leaders live out the vision I had been casting out to them. What I have learned is that two years was our benchmark to see the vision to start taking shape (we still have a good way to go to see it fully formed). Yet, it was worth the wait because now we are seeing growth, discipleship, and community. Now, the culture gets to keep cooking, and like a slow roasted turkey it gets tastier the longer it cooks!

– Chad Daugherty

Discussion Questions:
1. What vision is it that you want to cast or are in the process of casting?
2. Do your leaders know you? Are they comfortable enough with you that they had their doubts?
3. What is your plan to stick to the recipe to see the vision set and the culture changed?

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