Ministry is busy, ya’ll.
I’m sure that you operate like I do and are always looking for ways to maximize your time. We operate with a sense of urgency because we know that the need in our community is great and the time is short.
How can we avoid unnecessary tasks and focus on what is most important?
There are plenty of opinions for the most effective way to organize your week. I want to look at one of the most dangerous.
There is a popular teaching that encourages student pastors to divide their week into thirds.
According to this teaching a youth pastor will need to spend a third of his time with students, a third with parents, and a third with volunteer leaders.
You read that correctly:
- 1/3 of your time with students
- 1/3 of your time with parents
- 1/3 of your time with volunteers
Doesn’t that sound nice and predictable?
I bet that this method was first outlined in a Precious Moments Bible.
As you know, ministry is far from predictable. This method is as realistic as reaching Narnia.
Sure, you need to invest quality time in each area: students, parents, and volunteers. No one will argue this. But ministry is not as simple as investing a third of your time in students, parents, and volunteers.
This method misses the vast majority of work a student pastor handles.
- What about time for professional development?
- What about time to plan for the upcoming event?
- What about time spent investing in local schools?
- What about time to invest into your staff?
- What about time to prepare for your student worship talk?
- What about time to prepare expense reports?
You get the point.
Ministering to parents, students, and volunteers is paramount but your time will never be neatly divided.
How should a youth pastor manage his time?
I’m glad that you asked! Below are three keys that I have taken to heart as I strategically plan each week.
If you are a type A personality like myself, you will think that these three keys are too loose and too open-ended.
Operating within these truths allows you the freedom to structure your time as precisely as you want.
Three Keys For Managing Your Time
Develop Weekly Systems
Stop re-inventing the wheel each week. After being in your current role for a couple months you know what to do. Many youth pastors go into the office on Monday without a clear idea of what they are doing each week. It isn’t that we forget what is important, we fail to develop weekly systems.
If nothing else gets done, what are the most important tasks that must take place? These items are the “non-negotiables” for your ministry.
Your list will likely include:
- Contacting leaders
- Preparing talks
- Encouraging parents
- Following up with visitors
Put these items on your calendar as recurring systems.
Make sure that you are investing in these key areas before being distracting by your other to-dos.
Recognize Your Current Context
A weak volunteer team may need more than one-third of your time this week. An open door to be on a local school campus will consume more than one-third of your time.
Pastors minister to the specific needs of their people – not a hypothetical group. You must recognize the needs in your specific context. How you manage your time will be different from the youth pastor at the church down the street.
Maximize Your Current Season
Student ministry looks different in July than it does in September. Each season, holiday, and break allows time for you to shift your focus to maximize your time in a specific area.
The summer months are a perfect time to catch up on administrative work such as updating volunteer handbooks, recruiting leaders, and outlining sermon series.
The fall is a great season to reconnect with students and parents as they get back into the routines of the school semester.
Get to know the rhythms of your church, leadership, and community and start building on the momentum that is already present.