Youth Ministry Myths: Part 3 – ALL Youth Workers Are Disorganized…

My previous posts have taken a look at youth ministry myths that I see many youth workers frequently facing. Here’s the myth we are looking at today:

If you are a youth worker, you and your ministry will be disorganized… 

I never forget a one of my former students commending me for my organization of an event saying,”wow, for a youth pastor you are pretty organized, I didn’t expect that”! And, here are some more examples: 

  • In youth ministry circles, we proudly brag about our amazing ability to be able to “wing” anything. We almost wear our disorganization as a badge of honor…
  • How many times do we start writing a messages just a couple of hours before we meet with our students?
  • How many times have we been chewed out by a parent for our lack of communication?
  • How many conflicts have occurred in our marriages because we left something to the last minute and took away hours from our loved ones?
  • How many times have we double booked ourselves needlessly? 

If you are like me, being disorganized in youth ministry has been something I have laughed about, but it has also been the source of great pain. For some of my youth ministry friends, it has also been the source of losing their job. But, does it have to be this way? Are all youth workers naturally disorganized?  If we are not the “organized type”, should we simply accept chaos as part of our ministry reality? The answers to these questions should be NO!

Whether you are naturally organized or not, we do not have to live out the myth of disorganization. There are ways to improve and raise the bar of our ministries through good organization. Ultimately, if we want to have an effective ministry, we should work on our organization…

Here are some ways we can beat the disorganized myth: 

1) Surround Yourself with Organized People: I have a few people who help me plan events, plan the schedule, and take care of many details. Recently we did a large mission trip that required a lot of communication and organization. I recruited a leader (and she is also a parent), to be my primary organizer who ensured that the details were handled and effectively communicated.

2) Recruit Parents to be your “Ears”: I have asked parents to help me ensure we are communicating and supporting other parents well in the details. I have asked them to contact me anytime we are not effectively communicating, or if the details are coming across in a “muddy” way.

3) Set Aside Time to Organize: Simple, but effective. I have found that even though it’s not always easy to be naturally organized, it is imperative to set aside time to plan and take care of details. Most Tuesdays after staff meetings is my block of time where I do admin, planning, and organizing. Putting aside my pride and asking parents for this kind of help is far better than getting chewed out by a parent who stressed out and is trying to balance a hectic family schedule.

4) Practice Planning Ahead: I use the word practice, because I don’t think it’s easy for all of us to perfect planning ahead. However, I want to challenge you to get into the habit of planning at least 3-6 months ahead on your calendar and consider the best dates for your events. When we plan ahead it’s easier to identify possible conflicts and it can be more effective to recruit leaders for our events and programs.

5) Ask Your Spouse / Family for Help: My wife is fantastic at being organized and has helped me a great deal over the years. But more importantly, she is someone who gets to see my ministry schedule before it gets published for others to see. My wife knows my strengths and weaknesses and knows how much I can take on. She is the one who helps me to consider possible pitfalls and conflicts in my schedule and organization. Perhaps the most important aspect is the permission I give her to veto anything on the schedule that is going to be unhealthy for our family. (I learned this principle from Dr. Jim Burns of Homeword).

6) Don’t Make Excuses: Finally, I hate to even say this, but too many of us are using this myth as an excuse for being completely disorganized. What’s even harder to say is this: Sometimes laziness compels are to be disorganized and laziness compels us to use this myth as an excuse. “I’m in youth ministry… we are all disorganized… it’s part of job…” Is this just a lazy excuse? If I am honest, there have been many times when I have used this excuse because of laziness… How about you?

So, what are you doing to raise the bar of professionalism in your ministry? How organized do you need to be? What steps do you need to take to have a healthier ministry and family? Who helps you stay organized? What methods, devices, or technology are you using to keep you organized?

Phil <><

2 Responses to Youth Ministry Myths: Part 3 – ALL Youth Workers Are Disorganized…

  1. Gena August 12, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    I believe a lot of it stems from the fact that teens are forgiving and social! Details don’t matter that much to them as long as they can get together. And another problem when working with youth is that they wait to sign-up/register for an event — just in case something more fun comes up! For a youth pastor or leader, I’m sure that can be frustrating!

    Also, when groups are smaller in size – it’s easier to plan events without a lot of notice. As groups increase their numbers it takes more people to pull off events so planning and communication is vital!

    We are at the end of teen years at our house and it can be a wild ride with alot of activities on our calendar. We are scheduling out 3 or more months in advance, so any details that you can give me on a youth event is MUCH appreciated!

  2. Phil Bell August 12, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Thanks Gena! I think youth workers often forget how crazy and busy parents schedules and lives can be. It’s so important to give them lots of notice and plan way ahead!

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