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.

Last week I did two of the most difficult funerals I’ve ever done in my life. They were both high profile deaths in our community (you can read about them here and here), and after some reflection I thought I would share a couple of learnings from performing both ceremonies:

Funerals are heavy and humbling
There is never a good time for a funeral – but they are an unforgettable gift to a family in crisis. They are one of the heaviest aspects of pastoral care a pastor is called to do. I’ve felt it the past couple of weeks. It isn’t easy, but you have the chance to walk through a dark place with the family and show them God’s light. This is why you are here. Thank God that He has allowed you to be trusted with this.

Funerals are an incredible opportunity to share Jesus
Without a doubt, having a platform to give comfort and hope to people in need is the most fulfilling part of carrying such a heavy burden. Pointing them to Jesus Christ and the Good News is central to a funeral message. I do my best to share John 14 in every service, even if the person you are eulogizing wasn’t a Christian.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6 NLT

Funerals are the beginning of a relationship with the family
A funeral is not intended to be the end of a relationship with the family – they are just the beginning. Often times members of the family will need additional counseling or help possibly navigating the future ahead without their loved ones. By performing the funeral, you are now an honorary member of the family and can help them in the days, weeks and maybe even years ahead.

JG



I’ve been posting the results of a new member survey from our church that gives some incredible insight as to why people choose a particular church. Here are #6-10, if you missed the first half of the series:

Introduction

#10 – Special Events and Activities

#9 – Availabilty of Church Near Our Home/Location/Campuses

#8 – Missions

#7 – Different Styles of Worship

#6 – Small Groups and Discipleship classes

Here’s reason #5 from a Top Ten list of why people join our church … I’ll post another each day this week!

#5 — Pastoral Care
The top 5 reasons are what matter most in this survey. If you want to know why people stick in your church, these will be it. At #5 this week – pastoral care. In short, if people are cared for, they’ll stick around. If you help someone through a tough time in their life, the stronger the connection is between them and the body. A wise man once said, “they’ll never care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” If this is true – time spent caring for people is critically important to faithfulness. It brings up some great questions: do people feel cared for in your church? Are you empowering tons of volunteers to do ministry? Are the people doing pastoral care, or just the pastor?

Youth ministry application: You can create a lifetime fan and a loyal follower of Jesus by walking through a tough time with a student or his/her family. Some of the best ministry moments happen when you’re in the thick of life: sitting with a pregnant daughter about to tell her parents what happened. Showing up when someone close to them passes away. Counseling them through a relational crisis.

Show up in people’s lives and people will show up in your church.

JG

We had some training recently for Pastoral Care/Counseling here at Saddleback and they just sent around a list of solid resources/websites that might be helpful to ministers. Here’s the list – thought it might be helpful to you, too!

Accountability websites
http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/

http://www.purelifeministries.org/index.cfm

http://www.livingstonesministry.org

http://www.xxxchurch.com

False Teaching Resources
http://www.exmormon.org/

http://cbhd.org/

http://www.biblegateway.com/

http://equip.org

General Life Resources
http://www.allaboutgod.com

http://cbhd.org

http://www.gotquestions.org/

http://www.godlife.com/

http://whoisjesus-really.com/

http://www.transferableconcepts.org/index.html

http://www.youversion.com

What other sites/resource would you add to the list that you find helpful?

JG



Was talking with one of the members of our youth ministry team recently – she told the story about one of the girls in her small group being in the hospital for testing and facing some potentially pretty serious health issues just around the corner. The response of the rest of the girls in her group was quick and simple, “what can our small group do?”

That might be the best phrase a student can ask, I think. It shows a depth of maturity not seen in many of that age. It means:

  • they get fellowship – the strength of community in a small group
  • they get discipleship – they’ve matured to unselfishness
  • they get ministry – we are about action not observation

I was excited to hear that phrase, especially when it is said by a teenager. Excited about what God can do with that kind of heart. Excited to see how they answer that question.

JG

Yesterday I posted part 1 of our volunteer process in our high school ministry – here’s the second half of the process from start to finish. Let me know if there’s anything that needs clarifying in the comments!

Train
Leader training is a critical and ongoing step in the process, our very best leaders attend small group leader training each year, even as veterans. We regularly give away little books or resources, encourage them with a video or note and even make sure they have ongoing training in their hands every few months.

Care
When there is a crisis in the life of one of our leaders, we are there. Flowers for a death in the family, a visit if they’re in the hospital, prayer over a family crisis – I am a pastor to pastors – and these amazing volunteers are our front line ministers so I need to give them focus, love and care.

Encourage
Be a cheerleader.

Remove
Occasionally you may have to remove a leader. Every year so far we’ve had to deal with the messiness of ministry specifically with volunteers. It may be a personal issue, a doctrinal issue or something to do with lifestyle. Either way, I have to take care of it as it is part of our process. My least favorite one on this list but a necessary evil.

Celebrate
We have some superstar leaders, and when they’re run is over we celebrate. Maybe it is as simple as a note or movie tickets, other times it is dinner at a nice restaurant. Take time to love them our the door if they finish well.

JG



Been talking a little bit about our youth ministry volunteer process since we have a key leader in transition on our team and we want to make sure the DNA and spirit of our group is intact after she’s gone. Here’s what our process looks like – from beginning to end:

Recruit
We go to as many different arenas in the church as possible to find volunteers. When it’s time to recruit, begin with prayer and go to the places where your best potential leaders are. Talk to groups and talk to specific individuals. Beware of the temptation to commit the seven deadly sins of volunteer recruiting.

Application
Once you’ve made the ask, make sure you have an application for them to fill out. Make sure it is somewhat comprehensive while not being defeating, but discouraging enough to weed out most of the poorer applicants from the start.

Investigate
Included in the application is the consent for a background search. This is absolutely critical. No one serves with students unless they’ve been professionally screened. The potential volunteer pays the nominal fee for this to be completed.

Interview
After the application and interview, we take some time to get to know them. In many churches, you know the potential volunteer already, but take the time to talk with them specifically about what they’re getting into. Share you heart, vision and make sure they have their questions answered, too.

Assign
Once they get the green light up to this point of the process, we will assign them an area of ministry. Usually this is revealed during the interview process – sometimes it is where we have a need (like a small group leader) or based on availability (like an event leader) or passion (like a weekend leader). Ideally we would put in 3 and 6 month check ins, but this is less formal in our setting and we just try to catch up with them as we can as they get acclimated to the ministry,

I’ll post part two tomorrow! What’s your process, or what needs clarity from ours? Let me know in the comments.

JG

I’m not in ministry. I no longer work with today’s youth (I used to). In fact, I don’t even have any kids! So what insight could I possible offer to youth workers? A lot actually! I’m a professional money manager. I am managing millions of dollars in various portfolios for clients all over the country. It is stressful, it is rewarding, and it is also my calling. I love what I do.

I hear the same thing from youth workers, too. That is, they love what they do….except for one thing: raising money for support! In fact, I once heard a youth worker say he’d rather try to milk a wild bull than ask people for money! However, if you follow a few easy steps and make it part of your daily routine, it can be not only very rewarding, but very gratifying too! And you probably won’t get kicked by a bull in the process.

Would you rather be a salesman or would you rather just talk to a friend? I’d rather just talk to a friend. That’s really what it all boils down to…talking to your friends.

In today’s technology filled world, you can talk to your friends in hundreds of ways. In my practice, I use e-mail, newsletters, thank you cards, phone calls, text messaging, snail mail, and I’m probably leaving a few out. When I reach out to my clients, do I ever ask for money? Absolutely Not!! Do my clients send money in for me to manage? You bet! How is this done? Talking to people like they’re friends.

Here are 5 simple rules to follow whenever you talk to people who may be able to support you:

  1. Talk to them like a friend by showing them you care. I know you care about them. That’s one of the main reasons you went into ministry. Be sincere. Be genuine. Call them on their birthdays. Take an interest in their lives and their family. Simply put — show them God’s love.
  2. Tell them about what you’re doing in your career. Do not ask them for support. That’s right…do not ask them. People (for the most part) are intelligent. They know you need financial assistance. Tell them about how you’re trying to go to Africa, or whatever it is you want to do. Use the word “trying.” Tell them that you need their prayers. Leave it at that.
  3. Ask them for their address. This is important. Why? So you can send them a newsletter! At least once a month, hand-address an envelope in your own handwriting with a nicely written update (mass produced newsletter is okay) on what you’re doing in your ministry. They will enjoy reading it and you will politely be keeping your name in front of them.
  4. Tell them about how you’re winning in the fight for Jesus. Everyone wants to be on a winning team. Tell people in your newsletter what your accomplishments have been and what your goals are for the rest of the year. They will want to join your team.
  5. Follow-Up!!! Josh knows that these are my 2 favorite words. If someone expresses the slightest interest in assisting you financially, call them! Don’t text them…too impersonal. Call your “friend” and see if the interest is sincere. If so….follow up! Collect phone numbers, addresses, build an e-mail list. Don’t ever say, “if you want to know what I’m doing, just visit my web page or see my facebook.” That is VERY impersonal, and besides, you’re violating rule #1 (above)! Don’t drop the ball here. This step is critical. Put it on your calendar. Write it down. Make sure you follow up, and don’t miss.

There are a few other things you could do, but most of them revolve around the above 5 steps. Show people you care. Send them a “thank you” when they do support you. Make it as personal and sincere as possible. If you simply treat others the way you would want to be treated, the financial support will come. Just be consistent.

Oh, and if you know of someone who needs a great financial professional to assist them with their retirement, please send me their e-mail address. I promise you, I’ll follow up!

Rob Vollmer was a long-time volunteer in the High School Ministry at Saddleback Church. He now works for First Allied Securities and can be contacted at rvollmer@msn.com.