article.2013.01.29Church office hours—what a great subject! And while this might not specifically apply to everyone getting the newsletter, we’re hoping there are some principles that will help everyone, whatever their role is in youth ministry. So how do you make the administrative side of ministry work? Here are a few ideas that have helped me a ton:

Make your preferred method of communication known.
If you are a phone person, put your phone number everywhere and on everything. If you hate the phone (like me!) make sure that everything points to the way you work best. In my case, email is the most effective way to manage the incoming streams of information, complaints, and requests. I still check voicemail occasionally and have learned to live with another inbox (thanks, Facebook) but I want to make sure people know where I’m most available and where they can get the best results. Otherwise someone may be expecting an immediate phone call in return when that priority is much further down on my list. Go public with how you tick.

Don’t let others manipulate your time.
Every meeting has a starting time; why shouldn’t it have an ending time as well? Meetings, committees, and unexpected drop-ins have a way of eating up an enormous chunk of our day. And I need more Facebook time (just kidding). So when you start a meeting, lay out the goals and the time they need to be met by. When someone drops by, early in the conversation let them know your boundaries to help them find their way to the point of the drive-by. Of course, the idea here is not to create an assembly line of care or artificial community, just a candid revelation that at times you have to have good boundaries in every area of your life—even office visits.

Drop everything for pastoral care.
Okay, you might read that and go too far with it. But you are never more valuable then when there is a crisis. Get to the hospital as soon as you can. Rearrange that lunch with an old friend from college so you can go to the funeral. Don’t miss the big things, and at least be aware of the small things. Of course, remember this principle has boundaries as well, but as a general rule: When a crisis shows up, you do, too.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Now is the time to stop wasting time on mindless time fillers. They leave us drained and eventually with lots of work piled up that will just become too overwhelming to even want to deal with.

Spotting mindless time fillers
They are easy to spot: Facebook, video games, cell phones, television. When we do them, we get absolutely nothing accomplished. I’m not saying there is nothing to be accomplished on them but that they can be time killers when not used responsibly. We find ourselves wasting our time on them when we are bored but don’t want to do what actually needs to be done. So they keep us busy filling our time, yes; but are not productive at all.

Stopping mindless time fillers from filling your time:

  • We can stop them from filling our time without quitting them altogether by setting a daily time limit and sticking to it. 30 minutes a day should be long enough as it is not too long, leaving you feeling drained and not too short, leaving you wanting more.
  • Sometimes we waste time because we do not know where to begin. Having a list of things that need to be done will give us a heads up.
  • Stay focused in the task at hand. Turn off notification ring tones, close the Facebook tab and get to work. You will be much more productive and be done with the task before you know it!

Apply these simple steps and be on your way to a more productive you in 2013!

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

Today we hit on the foundation of good youth ministry: Love God, love students.

Love God

This is the first love—our hearts must be centered and aligned with his in order to do genuine and effective ministry. You can fake it, but frauds are always found out. A counterfeit youth pastor won’t make it long-term—and the key to being genuine is to be in a genuine, daily walk with The Father. We all endure seasons of spiritual dryness, but make sure it’s the rare interlude to sincere spiritual health. Remember, you’re discipling your students with your life; make sure it’s centered in the right place.

THIS WEEK: Take a little time to evaluate your spiritual health. Usually, you instinctively know where you currently stand, so don’t try to talk yourself out of your gut reaction. There is nothing more important in your life/office/to-do list than your walk with Jesus. Ask your supervisor for a spiritual retreat day. Call up a mentor and savor the wisdom in his or her words. Eat a meal alone. Talk to the person who is draining you, or finally have that conversation you’ve been dreading that’s been distracting you from truly loving God. Love Jesus more than you love youth ministry.

Love Students

For most, this comes pretty easy…it’s the reason you got into this gig—but at times students can be needy or draining. When spending time with students suddenly feels tough, fight through the temptation to focus on tasks and be constrained to your church office. Get out and be with students. We’ve both discovered through the years that the very best way to stay in love with students is to simply be around them!

THIS WEEK: Adjust your schedule to spend a little more time with students. Linger in a conversation with a student you would normally brush off. Look for opportunities to show up in a big way for a family in need.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

I’d like to take a guess and say that administrative work is NOT topping the “My Favorite Things” list for most youth pastors. We do the paper-pushing because it seems like we have to; like it’s a “necessary evil” of our job description. When I started out in ministry, I was anything BUT organized. Because of that, I often found myself less than prepared for stuff I “coulda, shoulda, woulda” seen coming. Years ago, I created a skeleton that I hang every workday on (especially workdays in the office). You may hate acronyms, but this one has served me well: D.R.O.W.N. And the great thing is this works no matter what size church, paycheck, or office you have–even if you don’t have of those things!

D: Desk surface. Having a desk surface you can actually see is step #1 in having a smooth(er) day at the office. I’ve learned that the condition of my workspace is usually pretty indicative of the condition of my brain. So, the first thing I do is make sure I start the day with at least a semblance of order on my desk. I’m a “piler” by nature but I’ve gotten pretty good at limiting myself to one pile and actually knowing what’s in it. That helps my mind stay clear and uncluttered.

R: Respond to emails and voicemails. Let’s face it, nobody likes to wait. And whether you consider yourself someone who likes making calls or writing emails, the fact remains that the sooner you get back to people, the less they’re going to draw horns and blacked-out teeth on any picture of you they come across. I make it a rule to start with the most difficult/uncomfortable/awkward calls first. Putting THOSE off will only make things more difficult/uncomfortable/awkward later.

O: Objectives for the day. I married a list maker. Ipso facto, I have become a list maker. Whether you’re a hipster with an iPad or someone like me who still loves the feel of paper and pen, make a list of what you’d like to accomplish. Your emails/voicemails you just dealt with might add/change/take away from your objectives for the day. Then, there’s the wonderful feeling of crossing things OFF the list! The most important nugget of advice I can share about lists is BE REASONABLE. Writing “Create a 6-year curriculum plan then write every week’s lesson” on today’s list might seem ambitious, but it’s not. It’s insane. Keep to things you can realistically get done today.

W: Work. Yes, I know we all know it’s a calling to be in ministry, but let’s face it: there’s work to do! So, once you’ve got your objectives for the day set, go after them like you go after that middle school kid in dodgeball; the one who threw up on your sleeping bag at retreat. Among all workers–paid or volunteer–Christians should exhibit the greatest work ethic and the highest quality work out there.

N: Next Day. Start this one 10-15 minutes before you PLAN on leaving for the day. Do whatever you can to get set for a good start to the direction for tomorrow, whether that’s a jumpstart on a clear work surface to start the day with or jotting something down on tomorrow’s objectives list, be it something you didn’t get to from today’s list or something that the SYM podcast inspired you to do.

While administrative work might be as much fun for you as Chubby Bunny is for me, I hope that you can find a new level of productivity and efficiency during your time at the office.

Jerry Varner is the Student Discipleship Pastor at Southside Church in the Richmond, VA area and has been in full-time student ministry for 16 years. He blogs sporadically at

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New poll today for POLL DAY! The first of 10 … what time in the morning do you start your office hours each day at the church?