Student Ministry Stuff is the title of a new series of posts I started two weeks ago. Not sure if it will always take place on Monday, but it looks to be the pattern so far (edit: I just reviewed, I had done these the last two Tuesdays… ha, so I guess I broke the early pattern). SMS, as I call it, will continue to be little tid-bits, editorials or advice for those involved with student ministry.
With todays post, I hope to help the non-Administrative Youth Worker.
At first glance it seems as if the post is specific to Youth Pastors, but can certainly be adapted to those who are Bible Study/Small Group leaders and/or those who work closely with non-administrative Youth Pastors.
For the first five years that I was a Youth Pastor I did not have the benefit of having any administrative help (admin assistants/secretaries, etc.). Therefore, if it was to get done, I was to do it. I think I may have already been wired along the lines of being administrative, but I do believe during these formative ministry years I not only used the spiritual gift, I believe I developed some administrative skills to boot.
Most Youth Pastors I know are HIGHLY relational and very non-administrative. They are great people-persons and are drawn to relationship. They’d much rather be at a coffee shop discipling a student, coming alongside a volunteer leader at a lunch appointment or at the high school watching a basketball game than taking time behind the desk making phone calls to get the vans for the trip, the contract for the camp or writing thank you notes to help from last week’s lock-in.
I do believe that Youth Pastors should excel in the areas he/she is most gifted. However, he/she needs to be careful to not allow their weak spots to become the downfall to the ministry. Administration is often that downfall. So, let me help with just three tips.
- Charts. I broke my calendar year into thirds, which was pretty consistent with a school year calendar: Fall Semester (Sept.-Dec.), Spring Semester (January-June) and Summer (with summer scheduling being dramatically different than the fall and spring). I would take just a few hours a several weeks before a new segment (Fall, Spring or Summer) of the year and I created a chart with the different areas of ministry needs and then would assign a person for each of those areas. After completion I’d send out the rough draft, get feedback/cancellations, etc. then make the changes and re-send so that all were ready to go into the new semester. The categories included: Sunday School teaching, Sunday School Worship, Sunday School Announcements, etc.. Then for Youth Group I’d do the same with areas like, speaking, games, worship, snacks, extras. By doing this and assigning tasks early I had all of my staff on the same page and every person knew his or her role for each week. It also gave specific volunteers opportunity to prepare for their role and get things on their own calendars.
- “First 15.” I suggest that the first 15 minutes in the office each day have a specific task. For those who are non-administrative, the first 15 minutes on Monday may be the time for them to write out a “to-do” list for the week. Tuesday could be the “thank you and/or encouragement” notes for the week. Wednesday could be cleaning out the email inbox (and REPLYING to the ones that need to be replied), etc. Regardless, if a non-administrative person could be disciplined for at least 15 minutes each day with administrative tasks they will probably be miles ahead.
- Constant communication. I believe the greatest gift a YP can give his or her teens, staff members and parents of teens is consistent communication. For me that meant a monthly email/newsletter to students; a quarterly letter (and often a gathering with parents) and a weekly email to my student ministry team (staff). The weekly email to the staff was probably the best thing I did to keep my team on the same page. I used it to encourage the team, remind of weekly assignments and quickly set the vision for things ahead. All of this plays into the area of building trust with all three segments of the ministry (student, staff and parent). Ultimately we want everyone freed up to do what he/she is gifted in and passionate about.
I have examples of all of the above in my archives of Youth Ministry (electronic) folders. Don’t hesitate to ask me for any of these as a sample of what I did.
Hope those who are not-administrative can become slightly more administrative so that you’re miles ahead and more freed to do what you’re most passionate about!