The Worst Way For A Youth Worker To Manage Time

Chase Synder
August 14th, 2019

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?  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 in 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 rarely, if ever, 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. However, operating within these truths allows you the freedom to structure your time as precisely as you want.

1. Develop Weekly Systems

Stop reinventing 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.

2. 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 down the street.   [bctt tweet=”Pastors minister to the specific needs of their people – not a hypothetical group.” username=”ys_scoop”]

3. 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.

Now What?

What are some practices you have used to manage your time?

This post was previously published by ministrybubble.com.

Chase Synder

Chase Synder is the founder of ministrybubble.com and serves as a Family Pastor in Knoxville, Tenn. He seeks to live a life that glorifies God and disciples others through their day-to-day lives, and his passion is equipping those in the church to seek those who are outside of it.

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.