Life Hacks for Youth Workers
Three things about me:
- I’m a youth pastor who’s committed to knowing students and nurturing them in faith.
- I have a wife and children I treasure.
- I don’t have a personal assistant.
Number three on that list means that I need to maintain a delicate balancing act between the first and second. I’m able to make this happen through creative and consistent ministry hacks.
Hack your Calendar
Monday malaise used to minimize my ministry effectiveness. I wasted millions of minutes attempting to map out a week of things I might do, while the reality of regular programming loomed in the background. To address this, I changed my routine. I stopped staring at a blank screen, waiting for crisis or inspiration, and I started breaking my week up into chunks. Each day has an overall theme that dictates specific tasks:
- Administrative Monday—filing paperwork, planning budget, calculating attendance, and tying up any loose ends from the week before.
- Creative Tuesday—designing and dreaming about long-term and short-term curriculum, including sermons, studies, and experiences.
- Lead-the-way Wednesday—recruiting new leaders and touching base with current leaders.
- Throwdown Thursday: prepping for the weekend.
These categories provide a helpful framework to guide me throughout the week.
Hack your Curriculum
I used to tie myself (and my minutes) up in knots searching for curriculum with the right theme, theology, graphics, and leader guides. Would my students be interested? Would it speak into their lives? Does it equip leaders and communicate truth? This often left me scrambling on Saturday. To address this, I stopped looking at Google and started listening to my students. What are they talking about? What are they sharing on social media?
Hack your Communication
While she and I don’t always get along, Siri has revolutionized my drive time to and from work. Rather than listen to the radio, I use my phone’s hands-free dictation feature to text my students prayers or words of encouragement.
Hack your Crises
After I spent several evenings addressing students’ faux crises (No one will take me to prom), I began using a phrase that revolutionized my ministry and my marriage. I tell students, “I can give you ten minutes now, or I can give you a lot more time tomorrow,” and then I let them choose. Students deserve to be listened to and cared for—just not at the expense of my family. Of course, I don’t use this hack in the event of a more significant crisis (a death in the family, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, etc.), but clear boundaries are key for long-term, healthy ministry.
These ministry hacks have helped me not only overcome the absence of a personal assistant, but they also help me address the delicate tension between my love for my students and my desire to be present as a husband and father.
JASON BROWN has served in student ministry for 13 years. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and currently serves at Broadway United Methodist Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Jason also serves as a coach for Student Ministry Solutions. He longs for a day when the Utah Jazz win the NBA championship.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.