You just don’t have enough time for everything.

It doesn’t matter how well you manage your schedule. Someone is going to demand more of you than you’re able to give.Wasting-Time

One of the best books I’ve read is Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley. Its summary is simply that you’re going to cheat people out of your time, and you have to choose who that will be on a daily basis. The challenge is to make sure no one feels “cheated.”

I first thought that meant I needed to develop a personal value statement as my personal filter for how I spent my time. I later realized that the ministry I served in needed its own values statements for the same reason.

Note how that’s a plural concept. A good one-line mission statement will get you rolling in what you try to do, but several value statements help you foster the culture you’re going to do them in.

Here are our church’s 12 “Family Values” that help us figure out what’s worth spending time on.

    • We put God first in all things. God isn’t just the cherry at the top of our lives—he’s the spoon through whom we approach every part of the “sundae.” Instead of just turning to him about some things, we will follow him in everything.

 

    • We love people and will share Jesus with them. It’s up to us to make the next move that lets others experience God through us. We say nobody’s “no” for them—we give them reasons to say yes. Like Jesus, we receive people where they are and speak truth that guides them out of sin and into life.

 

    • We embrace the tensions of the Bible. The Bible wasn’t given to make us know-it-alls, but to foster wonder and wisdom that leads to conversation and conversion.

 

    • We reclaim what’s Normal and reframe what’s common. There is an “original good” in all people and things that we join our Creator in recovering…we won’t settle for the way things are. What’s common isn’t Normal; what’s Normal isn’t common.

 

    • We create as many on-ramps as possible. Everything we do will help outsiders become insiders so the lost can become found and the young in faith can become mature.

 

    • We learn how to feed ourselves and others spiritually. We’re not going to stay baby Christians but will take hold of what it means become disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

 

    • We own and overlap our circles. Every person has a unique life-calling and care-network they’re to discover, take hold of and overlap with others for an epic impact.

 

    • We form community instead of waiting for it to happen. Proximity doesn’t equal intimacy.  We won’t  wait for community, but will make intentional investments that make it happen.

 

    • We work stuff out with a stubborn love. When we get upset, we don’t exit. Reconciliation honors Jesus Christ, especially when it’s hard, in our relationships and church.

 

    • We are intergenerational and age-appropriate. Every person, regardless of age, has something to offer another person, regardless of age.

 

    • We spend our words and our stuff generously to further God’s Kingdom. We go above and beyond what feels comfortable to see life change above and beyond what feels expected.

 

  • We are a growing church. Our size is determined by God’s calling to reach more people with him. We cannot become small-minded or comfortably sit back when he’s called us to be open-hearted, carry our cross, and join him locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.

I’m well aware how hard all of that would be to memorize. Someone would argue that we should distill those down and have 3 to 5 phrases that sum them up. Perhaps one day we will, but right now we don’t need to. Our leadership team spent a year meeting with every household in our church and we discovered these phrases have become “sticky” church-wide based on messages I’ve shared, things others have said, and initiatives we’ve taken part in together.

cultureIn other words, everyone knows these values even if they can’t fully articulate them.

We’ve created a culture where we know what’s worth “wasting time on.” Where that comes in handy is if I have to spend time on one thing versus another thing, I have a community who understands why. They’ll compensate for me in other areas as needed so I can do what I need to do in what’s most needed.

Do you think this is possible in your ministry or church? What have you learned in this process? Maybe we can teach each other something.

Thank you for loving students!

Tony

@tonymyles

*Love Tony’s insight on service and youth ministry? Receive his articles every Tuesday when you sign up for the SYM Today Newsletter!*

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College Overload!

Chuck Bomar —  October 24, 2013 — 1 Comment

Screen shot 2013-10-24 at 8.43.57 AMSometimes it’s hard to stay focused in ministry and we wonder where we should be putting our energy.  Even worse, we stop wondering this.

Within a 20 minute radius of our church building we have college overload…

Here are the colleges/universities: 

  1. Portland State
  2. University of Portland
  3. Lewis and Clark University
  4. Reed University
  5. Oregon Health and Science University
  6. George Fox University
  7. Concordia University
  8. Multnomah University
  9. Warner Pacific University

Then we have 14 different trade schools…art, mechanical, etc.

Then we have the following Portland Community College (PCC) campuses:

  1. Sylvania 
  2. Clackamas
  3. Cascade
  4. Rock Creek
  5. Mt. Hood (about 30 minutes from our building)

The community colleges alone total over 80,000 students on campus.

This can cause confusion as to where to concentrate our time.

We have thoughts on this, but wondering, what are some guidelines that you use to focus your attention?



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Want to make your spouse happy and be in youth ministry for a long time? 3-4 times a year spend an hour or two synchronizing your family + youth ministry calendars together. Spent some time this morning doing the same!

JG

article.2013.03.12One of the questions we are often asked is: How do you get it all done? To be honest, no one gets it all done. But, we have come up with a few techniques over the years to help us squeeze more into each day. This week we want to take a little time to help you boost your productivity.

Turn off notifications
Notifications are the derailment of getting stuff done. And while you may pride yourself on giving quick answers and having instant follow-up, what you are actually doing is interrupting continued focused thought in one particular area. Try prepping your next sermon using iA Writer (iawriter.com) and see if the focus helps you prepare faster and more effectively.

Do email in bursts.
Similar to the “turn off notifications” idea: Only check your email a few times a day. This one is harder than ever with that little “new email” icon or unread number calling out your name to check it incessantly all day. Stop the email madness! Do email in the morning, noon, at the end of the workday and just before bed and you can knock out a bunch in one block rather than let it persist all day.

Never eat alone.
Everyone has to eat lunch! So make your productivity matter even over your lunch hour. Spend time with a mentor, a student, a volunteer, your spouse, one of your kids—make every meal count.

Manage your meeting times.
It doesn’t take long for a meeting to turn into a marathon, so master the subtle ways to help move them along. Ask good questions, make sure there is a clear objective beforehand, and don’t be afraid to help bring it to a conclusion so you can be on time for the FCA meeting or volleyball game coming up next.

Get out of the office.

Have a secret location that no one knows about where you go to “get stuff done.” Starbucks by the church is a little too obvious for me—I (Josh) love a little Boba place around here that is quiet, has free wi-fi, and no one has any idea where I’m at for a few hours to crank stuff out. I can be ultra productive there and get totally in the zone.

Open your door/close your door.
I love the “open door policy” of our church, but there are certain times it just isn’t a realistic option. Don’t be afraid to close your door 20% of the time to help you get things done without interruption.

What is your best tip for productivity?

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 love ‘doing’ youth ministry!  It’s so much fun!  There are things I get to do for my ‘job’, that no one else can do!  Going skiing is considered work.  Going to camp is considered work.  Going to a basketball or football game is considered work.  Is that not the best gig ever?  A majority of the time however, I find that I am in my office. That’s some of the hardest work ever.  Especially when disc golf is considered work.

Are you good at working ahead?  I find that I am most productive when deadlines are imminent. It’s hard for me to think way into the future and get stuff done 3 weeks ahead of time, let alone 3 months.

Tip: Set your own deadlines.  I have tried this over and over again.  My problem is that I don’t have consequences when I don’t meet my own deadlines and I have no one holding me accountable.  So, if you NEED to get something done one month ahead of time, set a deadline and have someone consequence you for not getting it done.

Do you work best in the morning, afternoon, or evening?  For me, a vast majority of my work comes in the PM.  I’m not a morning person at all.  My brain doesn’t really start functioning until after lunch.  That’s partially why I take an early lunch, so that I have a majority of my most productive hours ahead of me.
Tip: Figure out what times you are most awake and effective.  Set aside that time for your deep study or for your time to knock off everything on your ‘to do’ list.

Are you easily distracted?  I am often distracted by…you guessed it, the internet.  I don’t know if you’ve seen it yet, but there’s just so much there to learn.  One link leads to another and before you know it, you are watching youtube video on how to clean the spores on a yak.  Bizarre, I know.  Email and Facebook are often calling my name.  I also get distracted by people who come into the office or by myself…going to find people to talk to.

Tip: Get away!  Go to the youth room to read.  Change your surroundings to help yourself get things done.  It’s possible that distractions are the way you live.  You love being around people, so you are distracted by having to sit in your office alone.  So, figure out the times you can be both distracted and productive.

In all things, whether in the morning or at night, whether you are working ahead or playing catch-up, whether you are being distracted or really focused, do all to the glory of God.
“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.  This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat of who can have enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)

God has give us work to enjoy, but it is impossible to enjoy your work apart from Him.  So do you enjoy your work?  If not, why is that?  Could it be that you are not really doing it with God in mind?  Yes, it is possible to do the work of the ministry and not have God involved in your life.  Let’s keep the right focus today as we come to our day of work!

Matt Reno is a Youth Worker from Mt Pleasent Iowa and has a blog too that you can check out here

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.

When I was young and single, spending time with students was simple and it was easily the best part of my job. But then I got married and we had two kids (third on the way!), and all of a sudden an evening with a sophomore meant a night away from my family. Juggling those commitments is the most difficult part of my job.

That’s why I look so forward to the second week of Christmas vacation. Students are past the Christmas craziness and I am too. By the second week of Christmas vacation, life has slowed down for me, and all of my students are still out of school.

Time to hang out! Scheduling time with students during school breaks is easy and fun. Lunches and hot chocolate breaks mean that I can spend most of my day with students and all of my evening with my family. It’s too important an opportunity to miss. Here’s how to make the most of this week:

Leverage social media like a pro.
Try this. Pick up a book. Go to the food court. Update your Facebook status to say something like this:

Hanging out at the food court until 2:00 p.m. today. If you come and hang out with me for twenty minutes, I’ll buy your ice cream!

Then wait.

Email parents.
Send an email to parents to let them know that you’re available and excited to spend some one-on-one time with students. They’ll be thrilled to get their stir-crazy child out of the house for a little bit and will take care of the scheduling for you. This is also a great way to spend some time with students who are too shy or uncomfortable to set up one-on-one time themselves.

Tell your staff what’s going on.
You don’t want someone to accidentally charge you a week’s worth of vacation just because you weren’t around the office. Explain that this is the BEST WEEK you’ll have all year to spend one-on-one time with students. That’s why you won’t be around and that’s why you won’t be available for meetings.

Are you missing out on the best week of the year to build relationships? Are you going to do anything differently in 2013?

Aaron Helman is on a mission to help end the epidemic of youth worker burnout. He writes Smarter Youth Ministryto help youth workers with their biggest frustrations. He is also the youth minister at Firehouse Youth Ministries in South Bend, Indiana.