How To Get Everyone On The Same Page

Courtesy of Stew Dean/Creative Commons License

One of the hardest truths to embrace in my first few years of ministry was:

You can’t do it all on your own.”

I struggled to embrace this truth because I didn’t feel as if I could delegate.  I knew that I needed help, I wanted help; however, I couldn’t share the responsibility.  I would show up on a Sunday thinking I was ready to lead a group of middle school students only to find myself completely unprepared.  I had forgotten a resource, not rehearsed my message enough, or was just overwhelmed by the responsibility.  It was probably harder to watch me than to be in my shoes.
As I’ve matured in ministry I’ve made it my business to improve my delegating skills.  As a youth minister it’s one of the most important skills you can acquire because it allows you to increase your capacity.  When I talk to other youth workers about delegating most of them agree it’s something they need to improve; however, they aren’t sure how to get started.  They’ll tell me, “Chris, I would love to delegate, I just don’t know how.”  
Really, the only way to get started is by trying.  But, to get better at delegating it’s important to remember the following:

  1. Consistent And Clear Communication Is Key: Asking someone once is not enough, you need to repeat and do it clearly.  When you can give concrete instruction you will set up your team with confidence.  If there is any vagueness chances are they will hesitate and even bail.  And, don’t be afraid to repeat because asking someone once is not enough.
  2. Invite Don’t Assume: Chances are your ministers know you need help, and they’ve even heard you exclaim, “I need people to help me!” But, you can’t assume that they are going to automatically step up and help you out if you don’t ask them.  Some people will; however, others need an invitation because they don’t want to overstep any boundaries.  Make sure you are clear and don’t feel like you need to trick anyone.  If they can’t help you they will say, “No.” and then you know to move on to the next person.
  3. Let Them Fail: It’s nerve wracking to hand responsibility over to someone else.  Even if you trust them, there is that worry, “Will it be as good as when I do it?” that crosses the mind.  In order to succeed in delegating you need to be okay with letting your team mess up.  After all, how many times have they let you mess up as their leader?  If they mess up or you pick the wrong person, you can make the changes for next time.
  4. Centralize And Organize What You Do: Our church uses an online software called Planning Center Online.  This has been a God send in regards to organizing and communicating what needs to be done and who will accomplish it.  If you are looking for something more ministry specific, check out Simply Youth Ministry Tools and D-NOW Online.  However, if your budget is tight, consider looking into creating a Facebook page or Google Group.  Doesn’t matter what you do, if you can centralize your curriculum, information and announcements you become more proactive in your communication.  People will know where to go, look and ask.  In the end you are setting them up for better success.

The key to delegation is how well you set-up your team.  If you think about preparing them, they will be there to help you fill in the holes and raise the bar on your ministry.  It can be intimidating to hand responsibility off and trust another person; however, in the long run it will pay off big time.

What tools or tips in delegating would your recommend?