Category

Systems and Structures

How To Set Your Schedule

By | Systems and Structures, Uncategorized

One of the hardest things for me to learn in youth ministry was how to set a schedule.  Busy seasons would turn into the norm and instead of feeling excited about what I do I grew tired and resentful.

I know I’m not alone, it’s something I hear from youth ministers I talk to regularly.  Setting a schedule is difficult and if you don’t set one yourself someone is going to set it for you.  If you are feeling like your schedule is a little crazy (Or doesn’t exist) make sure you start: Read More

Never Design Another Flyer

By | Systems and Structures, Uncategorized

Today, I’m happy to introduce a great resource for youth ministers. ParishDesigner.com is a service for youth ministers and parishes looking to promote their events, programs and ministries.  Founded by Michael Marchand, he brings years of youth ministry and design experience.

full-logo-500x300

His goal is to:

“Take care of the graphics, so that you can focus on the youth ministry.”

And that’s huge because youth ministry is difficult and we can’t spend time messing with graphics.  Instead you need to be focusing on relationships and systems to grow disciples.  What I love about ParishDesigner.com is how it: Read More

How To Develop Routine

By | Systems and Structures, Uncategorized

I haven’t been running for a while.  I had a bad muscle pull in my lower back.  It kept me from doing something I loved.  Finally this past week I’ve been able to get back into routine and it stinks.

Some of us like structure and others of us hate it, but we all need it.  You need routine in your ministry because it keeps you focused.  To develop a productive routine that you could actually enjoy is challenging, but it’s possible as long as you: Read More

4 Components Of The Perfect Youth Ministry Format

By | Systems and Structures, Uncategorized

Teens had to be there.  The activities were too long.  I spoke with no point or direction.  Our youth ministry program format was perfect for driving teens away.  Something had to change. 

Courtesy of Keoni Cabral/Courtes of Creative Commons License

Courtesy of Keoni Cabral/Creative Commons License

Maybe it’s your first year in youth ministry and you’ve walked into a mess.  Maybe you’ve been in the same place for a while and you’ve hit a rut.  

You are disappointed by the attendance.  Volunteers are hard to come by.  Things need to change.  If you are looking to create, tweak or change your youth ministry’s format be sure you:

Read More

Find Your Productive Boost

By | Systems and Structures, SYSTEMS AND STRUCTURES, Uncategorized

Some of my most productive moments happen on a plane.  I’m locked into a seat, with nowhere to go and the view out my window is priceless.  While I miss family and am not always sitting next to the most pleasant people, I’m guaranteed to get a lot done.

Everyone has a desire to be productive.  To be it all the time is a challenge, especially when your plate is completely full.  To become productive means tweaking some of the systems and structures that pour into your life.  To boost your productivity and make sure you stay on task always: Read More

Technology Driven Youth Ministry

By | Systems and Structures

I’m someone who spends a decent amount of time with technology for blogging, work and personal use. It’s a tool that I’ve utilized to better my life and it’s something that has created tension. It’s a tool that helps me greatly; yet, also consumes much of my life. As I grow to understand the fast and limitless world of technology I realize it’s important to have boundaries and a purpose behind how I use it. I’m always learning new things.

Not too long ago there was a divide amongst youth workers whether to embrace or reject the growing online and social media community. Part of the push back was because of the slippery slope online use can lead us to. While technology can accelerate you towards success or failure, it’s also a reality that youth ministers need to embrace. To utilize and better understand technology and it’s role in your youth ministry you need to:

Read More

Fold Inspiration Into Your Meetings

By | communication, Systems and Structures, Uncategorized

I used to hate Tuesdays.  It was one of those days where staff sat in one room for a meeting that lasted for hours. It had been a useful meeting when the team was only 5 people; however, as the staff grew so did the length of the meeting.  Eventually people didn’t want to be there (including myself) and that became obvious.  Instead of leaving full of inspiration, we left drained.  Fortunately, we did a face lift on meetings and made sure that each came with:

  • A SENSE OF PURPOSE
  • CLEAR AND ORGANIZED AGENDA

While not all meetings are designed to be fun, they should have an element of inspiration.  The end of your meetings should be a commission. You are sending your people out to go and GET THE JOB DONE.  Unfortunately people have preconceived notions that meetings are boring; therefore, fold in that inspiration by:

  • Provoke The Passion – In order to move your team forward you need to help them care. You need to do more than present a problem.  You need to paint a picture. Build inspiration by laying out the impact of your mission. Cast a vision and grow their heart by casting into their lives a vision.
  • Lay Out The Facts – Not everyone is motivated by emotion, some people receive inspiration from numbers and stats. Create a clear and accurate account of the data. Provide enough data for people to see how you can accomplish what you need to do and watch them move forward.
  • Give Direction – Even if you have their heart strings and filled them with reason, you need a plan to set them forward. Many times we spend a meeting heavy with facts and story, but lack the answer to, “Now what?” Never conclude a meeting or a message without an action plan.

Improve your meetings by preparing ahead of time. Practice your delivery and gain feedback from trusted sources.  Remember it’s not just about getting together, it’s about creating a path, listing out clear facts and growing their hearts.

How do you fold inspiration into your meetings?  What’s your biggest meeting hangup?

How To Knock Off The Rust

By | margin, pace, pacing, spiritual health, SPIRITUAL HEALTH, Systems and Structures, vacation

A few days before Christmas I was hit with the flu.  It wasn’t anything too serious; however, it had me tied to a couch with prayers of not dying.  Fortunately, it passed through quick.  Unfortunately, it sidelined me from any physical activity.  This was huge because the following week I would be winter hiking in the Adirondack Mountains.  While I was able to enjoy my time in the wilderness, that flu made me a little weaker and more vulnerable to the elements.  In other words I was wicked sore after the first day of hiking.

Whether the week between Christmas and New Years was a vacation or a quite work week, chances are you’ve built up some rust.  A week (Or even a day) of inaction will throw you off your game.  When this happens you lose momentum.  Most of you are facing this right now after the holidays and now it’s time to face 2013.  If you are feeling a little rusty and are wondering how to get the momentum back be sure to: Read More

How Your Ideas Will Hurt The Ministry

By | capturing ideas, creativity, ideas, leadership, LEADERSHIP, productivity, Systems and Structures, SYSTEMS AND STRUCTURES

A few years back I had immense lower back pain.  It was in the midst of marathon training and I remember being concerned that this was a “SIGN” that I shouldn’t be running.  It didn’t make sense because I was eating right, sleeping well and accomplishing my runs with great times.  So why the back pain?  I had little to no core strength and I never did postrun stretching.

I don’t know too many runners who like stretching or core strengthening.  But if you are going to run long distances and do it for a long time you need certain disciplines.  If you neglect these practices you’ll find your running career limited and short.

Exercising your creativity ideas is like working out your body.  Without the proper structure your ideas could end up hurting your ministry.  It will grow stale, out of touch and even out there.  If your creative process lacks discipline your ideas will hurt your ministry because they:

  • Are One Minded: Ideas need to be challenged by other opinions and outlooks.  If you keep them internal chances are they’ll never withstand time.  Share your ideas with strangers via Twitter or send them to a group of friends who you trust to give you the right feedback.  Add some dimension to your creativity by adding other people’s opinions.
  • Die Too Quickly: An idea might seem stupid, unoriginal or general at first; however, the reality of the situation is that it’s underdeveloped.  Make sure you right down all your ideas and then give it an expiration date.  If you don’t know how to use it, give yourself a week or month where you come back to it with a fresh mind.  When your ideas die to quickly they become wasted opportunities.
  • Are A Little Too Out There: Originality is OVERRATED.  You don’t always have to come up with new ideas.  In fact it can be rewarding to take old ones, and refurnish them.  Make sure you log what you do, so that you have that opportunity to revisit.  If they are valuable you’ll find them just as affective as something new.

Gain perspective, track your ideas and don’t be afraid to reuse.  While it creativity sounds like a free flowing process, it just like exercise needs discipline.  Take the time to build structure and discover how freeing it makes your productivity.

Do you have a creative process?  If so what does it look like?

Why You Make Avoidable Mistakes

By | accountability, leadership, LEADERSHIP, margin, ministry health, MINISTRY HEALTH, mistakes, promises, Systems and Structures, SYSTEMS AND STRUCTURES

During the summers in between high school and college I made money painting houses.  My boss was tough.  She made me refold drop clothes that were not folded to her standards.  Any paint drips on your hands or excessive paint on your brush deserved a scolding.  If a room was not prepped properly she would make me do the entire thing over.  Again, she was tough; however, it was due to her high standards.  She emphasized excellence and made sure her employees embraced that same value.  I learned how to approach situations, and projects slowly and carefully.  Mistakes were just not acceptable.

Unfortunately, mistakes are imminent.  Because of your human nature and the messiness of youth ministry, mistakes are likely to occur.  Why do they occur?  Some will happen no matter how hard you work and concentrate.  Then there are the other mistakes that could have been avoided.  The reason you make certain avoidable mistakes is because you:

  • Over Promise To Please: No one likes to disappoint others; therefore, the temptation to lie in order to please is strong. The worst thing you can do is to promise something you have no idea how to fulfill.  You try to fool yourself into thinking, “I’ll figure it out.” or “God will show me a way.“; but that’s like playing with fire. Make the promises you know you can keep and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” If you really don’t know the answer.
  • Never Build In Margin: When you have margin you can slow down the pace of what needs to be done. Many times when you are in a rush you make mistakes. You forget paperwork for a trip, you stumble through a message or you water down what should have been a memorable experience. When you build margin into your events, trips or programs you give yourself the capacity to do the tasks at a higher level.
  • Go Solo In Your Ministry: When you do things on your own you end up putting an unfair amount of pressure on yourself. Even if you are young and quick thinking eventually the work will catch up with you.  It will become too much to handle and somewhere you’ll slip.  Share the burden with others by delegating and asking for assistance.  You will be surprised to discover who will come to your side to help you increase your capacity and lift the level of your ministry.

If you try to avoid mistakes you’ll only find yourself disappointed.  Mess ups happen when you take risks, when the movement of your ministry is overwhelming and when Satan attacks.  When those happen be sure to guard and surround yourself with God’s love and wisdom.  It’s those mistakes that are avoidable that move us in the wrong direction.  If you are embracing discipline and proper preparation than you’ll continue stumble and fall.

What other avoidable mistakes do you see in ministry?