When working with kids, we get used to this question. The natural inquisitive nature of kids and teenagers can be refreshing. Okay, maybe the incessant “whys” of a four year old can get a little old. However, I find that as people, we ask this word less often than we should. In the right context, “why” is a powerful tool of evaluation and review that will help your ministry get better over time.

  • Why do you have that policy?
  • Why do you use this curriculum?
  • Why do you have these age groups in this classroom?
  • Why don’t you do this program?
  • Why don’t you say that more?
  • Why do you you take offering that way?

Don’t roll your eyes yet. We often get questions like these from parents or volunteers, so we already know all the answers. However, I find that over time, the answers change. Over time, the answers we used to give become less relevant. I believe that if we create a habit of asking the question “why” often enough, it helps us focus on developing our ministries to become more efficient and effective over time.

Here’s some classic examples:

We have policies that have become irrelevant because something else changed. Asking “Why do we do that?” helps us update policies to make training clear and effective.

We started using that curriculum back in the day because there wasn’t anything available that fit our context. However, maybe our context has changed since we started using that curriculum. Maybe there’s new curriculum out there. Asking “Why do we do that?” may save us money and time and allow us to become more relevant in our new context.

We group specifically aged kids in that environment because…. hmmm. Well, that’s the way it was when I got here. Maybe there’s a better way, it’s just that no one has asked “why?”

A simple suggestion or two:

Most of us don’t like change. We like “perfecting” something and working it like a well-oiled machine. The question “why?” feels like a disruption. It feels like a challenge to what has been built. Don’t allow yourself to become numb to the question “why?”

Cherish it.

When someone asks why you do something the way you do it, have a compelling answer. We all really should know why we do things the way they do. If the questions irritates you or pushes a button – recognize what’s really happening. Is it possible that it’s time for something to change? Maybe they see something you don’t. Maybe you haven’t cast vision effectively and they don’t see what you do. Regardless, it’s a good “why” that needs your attention.

Secondly, be sure you’re asking yourself and your team “why” on a regular basis. Re-evaluate your programs, ministries, resources and processes constantly. If you ask a why that doesn’t result in a good answer, look for how change needs to happen.