Ran into a former student the other day and had to blink twice when they told me that they were graduating college. This is not the first teen in my ministry to go through college, it was just one of those moments when you wonder, “Where has the time gone?” We all experience that, life in general moves quickly. As Matthew Broderick’s character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off so cleverly states:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it.”

When you hit that reality it’s easy to get discouraged because you might feel like opportunities have been blown or missed. The pace of your ministry might feel like it’s unbearable and you begin to question whether or not you are really getting anything accomplished. If you feel that way then chances are you need to SLOW DOWN. And you can do that by:

  • Managing A Schedule: You might not feel like you have enough time in the day because you don’t manage your hours well. A schedule is for tracking your time just like a budget is for money. Budget out your work day and breaks. Track the time you are spending in certain areas of your ministry. When you can track your pace you can slow it down.
  • Observe Silence: Too much noise will increase the pace you have at work. Make sure your environments allow you to slow down. It might be turning off music or the Internet. It could mean finding a quiet place to write or adjusting the lights in your office. Eliminate distractions so that you can concentrate on God’s calling for you.
  • Simplifying Your Ministry: The more complex something becomes the more overwhelming you will feel. Look at your ministry and instead of asking, “What are we not doing?” flip it and ask, “What do we need to stop doing?” Simple can be more effective than complex because you won’t be overwhelmed, instead you’ll be more focused.
  • Putting Time With God First: Life gets crazy when you try and take control. Quiet time with God is something you teach your teens; however, it’s something you have to remember to do yourself. Even if you feel like you have a million things to do, you need to put God first and let Him give you the grace you need to get through it. He’s the one who will and can slow down your days.

Slowing down your work pace helps you not only manage your ministry well, but build appreciation for where God is blessing you. It gives you a chance to observe how He is impacting you, the ministry and His Kingdom. So, SLOW DOWN.

Do you feel like you need to slow down? If so what area?

A youth worker sent me an email with a question about preparing for growth in their ministry as they were seeing larger classes in their children’s ministry heading their way – it looks like their ministry is on a path to double soon. Here’s part of how I replied to him, thought it may be helpful to you as well:

Infrastructure is absolutely key. I would definitely start building a team of leaders with all your energy. You might be tempted to think adding more programs but I think people and systems are the best choice.

Adding a position
Getting another staff person, even part-time, is a crap shoot. Flirt with it in your mind, but in my experience that is usually where it stays. Typically leadership waits to see results and staffs late, or staffs intentionall what is hurting instead of what is building. Ironic, but want to be real with you so you don’t get your hopes up. I do think it is time to ask for help before it is too late. And either way, start pouring in to your leaders and building a team of people, paid or not.

Core Leaders
Start a core team of people who are totally on board with the vision of your ministry and love and follow you. These are the people you’ll do life with and know the best. You need to trust them. They will trust you. You need to eat together, laugh together and develop some inside jokes and memories as soon as possible.

More Leaders
Next, I’d work on developing as many additional leaders as I could. Get your small groups/life groups super small next year, so they can scale and grow with more students as they start entering the ministry. If each group has 4 students, you could easily give them 6 the next year and 8 the year after. So make them all super small right now and get the rookies some experience and get ready with an infrastructure for growth.

Systems
This is where you can prepare for growth as well – make sure that all of your systems are ready to scale as well.  Take a look at your communications tools, your curriculum, your web presence, your parent ministry – all of these systems need to be able to scale up to double/triple their size. If not, you need to ditch the tool now before it dies under the strain of growth. Take care of these things now and adding students is a breeze.Wait and it will crush you and slow your momentum to a crawl.

Other random stuff/links to consider:

JG