Motor City Mission Corps has been quiet for a little bit and here’s why: after four months of active recruiting we failed to secure the three participants we needed in order to run the program. Needless to say, we are a bit disappointed. This project has been more than two years in the making. I was hired in April but conversations that eventually turned into the Motor City Mission Corps started in the spring of 2015.
At this point we’ve reached a crossroads, do we continue with the same program or do something different? Do we make adjustments to our previous model or try something new? What is it that anchors us, what is our purpose? Does this defeat mean we throw in the towel?
Faced with an array of choices I wanted to put some context both behind what happened in our first active recruiting cycle and how we talk about what we are going to do next. The full report, 17 Recruiting Results Analysis, turned into quite a document. You can download and read it if you are so moved but I’m going to pull out my conclusions and talk about them in more detail in a series of posts.
I feel it is important to be transparent about the choices we made and the results that they yielded. Our leadership took a risk in starting a new program. That this first iteration did not succeed does mean that our work was for nothing or that we have ultimately failed to engage young adults in mission. We have only failed if, at this point, we give up.
I have come to believe that this sort of risk is most necessary in the Church right now. Risk carries with it both the possibility of failure and of success. Either way, we can learn in the process. In hopes that what we have learned from this first failure might be instructive to someone else, I am happy to share where we have been and where we are going.
Five Factors that determined our recruiting results
After our first round of active recruiting I found that five factors lead us to receive less than the response we had hoped for. In the next several posts I will address each in more detail:
- Time was not on our side
- Our program did not have a significant competitive advantage
- There were more indirect costs than we may have thought
- The structure of our program created some unintentional barriers
- We made assumptions about what young adults want and need
There is not one factor that can be completely blamed for the program not running, rather it was all of them working against us. In order for the program to be successful in the future (keeping this same format) there is not one of these factors we could address that would massively change our outcome, we would need to address each of them in degrees.
In addition to writing this report I also had the opportunity to talk to a number of the young adults who make up the summer staff of Camp Westminster and Camp Greenwood. I also received some responses to an online survey of young adults. It was interesting to actually speak with young adults about how they could see themselves engaging with the Church in serving the world rather than making assumptions. I will also share some of my observations as they will have some bearing on where we go next.
As of this writing, the working group is still considering options for what we do next. We’re balancing the need to keep going with the need to have a thorough discussion on the matter. Through all our discussions we have been able to clearly affirm two things: first, our purpose is to connect young adults with the work of the Church and second, that we’re not done yet.