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We Have Got to Get Organized

02.09.2015 posted by Chris Marchand

Youth Ministry Organization Tips

I’m an organizational freak. I’ve always been an odd ball in youth ministry because most of my friends habits around organization or the lack there of would make me cringe. When someone’s desk is overflowing with paper and receipts I just want to shut the door, lock it, and send him or her away so I can sort, file, and organize everything. Let’s just put it this way, my favorite day would include four hours or more just walking through the Container Store and thinking through all the different ways I could organize, color code, and file system something.

I’m also one of those inbox zero email people. I hate a crowded inbox. Some people have inboxes with emails from when they graduated high school… not me. It comes in, it gets dealt with, and then the email is archived, filed, or rule permissioned so that it goes to the right corresponding file folder next time. Another example of my weirdness came when it was time to run an event or activity. The best part for me was not going on the activity. No, I do not want to burn outside in the summer heat for twelve hours while we listen to Christian band after Christian band and then do relationship break up counseling on the ride back to church. No, the best part for me was the half hour before we left the building. In that space I’m an organizational Jack Bauer. I would get the keys, fill up the gas tank, do my vehicle safety check. That Ford fifteen passenger van might as well have been a C17 Globemaster (a really big transport aircraft that the U.S. Air Force uses). I would grab my clipboard with my already prepared checklists and parent sign in sheets. I would process in everyone’s information. Ahhh… it was the best feeling in the world.

Youth ministry has not always had the best reputation for being well organized. Maybe you’re like me and organizational habits come easy. Or, perhaps you’re not like me and you still have empty pizza boxes lying around from last year’s super bowl party. In either case, here are some thoughts on how you can better organize your youth ministry.

  1. If you don’t have it… find it! My friend said, “I’m just not an organized person.” Okay… I know nothing about plumbing in my home. That doesn’t mean I just let the sewage run through the cracked pipe. If you don’t have organizational skills then you need to enlist and ask for some help. Find someone in your ministry or church that can help you tackle some of these organizational hurdles. I strongly believe that there are a lot of people who have gifts in these areas and would spreadsheet your world for you if you simply asked them. Your church has people who get a tingly feeling and excited when someone starts talking about Excel, iCal, and Outlook. If you don’t have a strong organizational sense then find a person that can bless your ministry and you in this way and invite them along for the journey.
  1. Keep Learning. If you’re still breathing you’re still learning. It might not be your “thing” but you could always learn something new. Find, as mentioned above, a person and have them spend a day or two teaching you how to use and implement some of these organizational habits and tools. Some of the best leaders I know allow others (especially those below them) to teach them new skills on a regular basis. The day you stop learning and growing might as well be the same day you get out of ministry altogether. Keep adding new skills to your ministry toolbox.
  1. Use what works for you and stick with it. Some people get really stressed out about being organized that they have their family calendar on Google calendar, work on Outlook, ministry on iCal, etc. They are using 6-7 different applications to just figure out where they are and what they’re supposed to be doing. Pick one and use it for everything. Or, if you must check in with many different applications use an application that will sync up with those systems. I like iCal for this reason. It helps me stay organized across my devices. However, if you want to use something with a little more power and a less streamlined look, then for Apple and Android users I would suggest using Pocket Informant. I LOVE THIS APP! It’s my bread and butter to stay organized with dates, event, projects, notes, and contact information. However, this is just what works for me. Try out some different solutions and find what works best for you. Then, stick to it.

How do you stay organized in your ministry? I’d love to hear what tools or methods you use on a regular basis to execute your ministry. Thanks!

1 Comment

  1. Michele Webb

    Love, love, love the “old” AWANA way where everything is color-coded. We have 10 clubs at our chapel and each club has its own color and font for everything. “Don’t put it down, put it away” would be my personal motto.

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