Buck the Stats

Josh Griffin —  May 3, 2012 — 1 Comment

Our profession has a problem. If you believe statistics (and 89 percent of you do), you’ll be searching for a job on Monster.com in about 36 months. I’ve joked with my friend Doug Fields that his book Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry will always be a bestseller.

This painful turnover needs to stop. It won’t be easy because many youth workers end up wounded soon after the honeymoon ends. We begin anticipating attacks (not teamwork) and jeers (not cheers). But despite all the challenges, you can stay strong for the long haul with these “lifer” tips:

• Hold some stuff sacred. To increase your chances of lasting in ministry, it’s essential to set boundaries on your time and life. Do you take a day off every week? A break might be difficult during an occasional week-before-summer-camp, but if you’re cheating too often, you won’t survive. Do you rest and exercise regularly? How’s your family life? Having a long view of ministry means putting family first. There’s a connection between your faithfulness to your spouse and your faithfulness to God. You have a problem if you’re constantly looking at your phone instead of at your own children (56 percent of you have them).

• Let some things go. Too often, youth workers want to fight over things that don’t really matter. We take a stand when we should sit down, and we speak up when we probably should shut up. If you fight for everything 100 percent of the time, you’ll be too wounded to endure. Over time, you’ll begin to understand what’s truly worth fighting for. Pause today to reflect on some things you might be grasping too tightly.

• Surround yourself with the right people. To build and maintain a long-term ministry, you’ll need the right people in your life. You’ll need: 1) a ministry cheerleader, 2) a ministry mentor, and 3) someone who doesn’t know you work at a church. Who’s cheering you on? Who’s in the stands watching you and yelling encouragement? (Eighty-eight percent of us have someone yelling at us…but it isn’t encouragement.) Who’s the wise sage nudging you on with practical wisdom? Who do you hang out with who cares nothing about your career? These people are sustaining and life-giving, and they’ll make a huge difference.

Live out of these truths and you’ll have a much greater chance of becoming a youth ministry lifer—not a statistic.

Originally appeared in the March/April issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!

Coaching Your Volunteers

Josh Griffin —  October 25, 2011 — 1 Comment

Ah, the fall. High School Football. You can see your breath. You’re eating overpriced nachos from the under-staffed school booster club concession stand. There’s nothing better than the crack of the football helmets hitting together. The cheerleaders in the background, the coach barking commands to his team. The team listens then works together in perfect unison to score a touchdown.

The difference between the picture we just painted and your role as a youth worker? You’re not in the stands in the youth ministry game, my friend. You are a coach. Here are some thoughts about coaching your volunteer team in the seasons ahead.

PRESEASON (late summer)
A coach in this season is focused on making sure his team is ready to perform at the highest level. Training and conditioning are the key. Preparation is essential for success on the field. In your ministry pre-season (July/August) make sure your team is trained and ready for the challenges of the season ahead.

INSEASON (school year)
A coach in this season is focused on winning games. Watching game films, evaluation and adjustments are key here. A youth ministry coach needs to constantly be evaluating services, programs and people to make sure each are working effectively. You can make changes at this point, but they have to be the right ones because the game is on the line.

OFFSEASON (summer)
This season is hardly “off” right? We recently looked back on this past summer and it felt busier than another other season this past year. So forgive us where the analogy breaks down a bit — but a coach in the off season becomes a strategist. They change up the playbook. They toss out what wasn’t working and experiment with something new. They take advantage of the lull and focus on recruiting new talent for their team. They plan ahead and make sure they are ready for when the team is assembled in the preseason once again.

Go get ‘em, coach!

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.