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Time management in youth ministry: keeping the Sabbath

This post is part of the Time Management in Youth Ministry series. If there’s one thing you need to do when you’re extremely busy, it’s to take one day a week off: keeping a Sabbath. It may seem like a stupid thing to do when your to do list is bigger than ever, but it’s the best investment you can make.

God gave the command to keep the Sabbath for a reason (even though the Ten Commandments have a different meaning for us than they did for the Israelites). We need this day of rest for our bodies, our minds, and our souls.

Keeping the Sabbath is an investment in our health, our family, our relationship with God and with others. If you just keep on running, you’re gonna find yourself run out, run down and overrun at some point. Continue reading Time management in youth ministry: keeping the Sabbath

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Why your youth ministry needs a mission statement

Does your youth ministry or youth group have a mission statement? By mission statement I mean a short (two sentences max) statement of what your youth ministry is about, what the reason for its existence is. If you have a mission statement, is it still current and does everybody who’s involved know it? I believe a good, current, well-communicated mission statement is essential to each youth ministry. Here’s 5 reasons why. Continue reading Why your youth ministry needs a mission statement

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How Evernote can change the way you work in youth ministry

 

Going paperless is completely possible with Evernote

This post is part of the Time Management in Youth Ministry seriesEvernote is one app that has truly changed the way I work. Not only that, but since I started using it about two years ago, it has saved me a considerable amount of time, energy and frustration. In a previous post I discussed 3 great ways to use Evernote in youth ministry. Today I’d like to show you how Evernote can change the way you work.

Go paperless

A year and a half ago, my husband and I decided to go paperless as much as we could. We bought a Fujitsu ScanSnap, a portable mobile scanner that scans all paper formats like crazy (take note that we own the Mac version of the ScanSnap, there’s another ScanSnapfor pc users).

And we tested it to the limit, feeding it every bit of paper we could find: policies, official correspondence, college notes, readers, conference proceedings, newspaper or magazine clippings, handwritten summaries from books, handwritten notes from sermons, courses and conferences, recipes, correspondence from friends over the years, bills, business cards, minutes from meetings, old spiritual diaries, mind maps I’ve made over the years, copies of important documents (passport, driver’s license, birth certificate) and much, much more.

By now, we have scanned over 35,000 papers and every time something new on paper comes in that we want to keep, we scan it. We’ve only kept hard copies on paper of the most important things (like current insurance policies) and everything else we’ve simply thrown out. I. Love. It. The ScanSnap (we affectionately call it Snappy) isn’t cheap, but it’s been worth every dollar so far. Continue reading How Evernote can change the way you work in youth ministry

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3 great ways to use Evernote in youth ministry

Evernote is by far one of the best apps I’m using. It’s one of the few apps that truly make a difference in my life and saves me tons of time, energy and frustration. I am convinced that Evernote can help you become more efficient and effective as well as you serve in youth ministry. I’ll show you why.

What is Evernote

It’s an app (either web based or installed on your MacBook, laptop, pc, smartphone, etc) that lets you collect any digital information and store it. The basic version is free, but the premium version I’m using has tons of extra features. Check the differences between basic and premium out on the Evernote site.

You can add files in any format (basic version only allows for images, links and pdf), clip complete webpages to Evernote (where they are readable as pdf), share notes via Twitter, Facebook or email and you can even do voice recordings when you want to record your thoughts. If you add a scanner (like the Fujitsu ScanSnap we have, take note that you’ll need another version of the ScanSnap if you have a pc), you can scan anything you want to, straight into Evernote. It’s a dream come true.

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Time management in youth ministry: Getting Things Done


We’d never heard of the name David Allen or the book Getting Things Done when we picked it up at JFK airport in September 2004. But it proved to be one of the most valuable and life-changing books we’d ever bought, because it showed us a way to become more productive without working harder. Here’s some of what I’ve learned and how it applies to youth ministry. Continue reading Time management in youth ministry: Getting Things Done

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Small group rules

For some reason, a lot of small group leaders are afraid to come up with rules for their small group. Sometimes even the mention of the word rule seems to throw them into a frenzy. There’s this idea that hospitality and warmth in a small group are not compatible with rules, that if you want teens and students to feel welcome in your house, you have to give them complete freedom.

I don’t agree with that. If you want you small group to function well, you need rules. Because a small group session that’s interrupted by the constant ringing and bleeping of cell phones really isn’t productive. And unless you want your furniture demolished, some ground rules about the use of your home might come in handy too.

Students don’t mind rules, they’re used to them. They have rules in their own homes, in school, in the sports they’re playing. They know about rules, so they won’t be surprised that you have some for small group as well.  And the great things about clear rules that you’ve agreed on together, is that you can actually tell people when they’re violating them.

You can only enforce the rules if you've made them clear

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Time Management in Youth Ministry: becoming efficient and effective

I’m one of those people who believes in the benefits of good time management. Why would I want to spend an hour on something when half an hour would be enough if I would just do it differently? Over the last ten years, I have tried out many things to become more efficient. Some were very successful, some not so much, and in this new series on Time Management in Youth Ministry I will share much of what I have learned, along with some lessons others have written down.

Generally speaking, as youth leaders we need all the efficiency we can get, because there’s always more work than can be done in the time we have. Our overflowing inboxes prove that we’re still not on top of our email, our to-do-lists seem to get longer instead of shorter and there’s always this nagging thought in the back of our head that we still haven’t done this or that…

Time management can help you become efficient: doing more useful work with less energy

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The importance of a code of conduct for your youth ministry

Does your youth ministry have a code of conduct for all volunteers and leaders? If not, I strongly advise you to make one, or to discuss doing this with your leader or pastor.

I’ve discovered that a code of conduct creates clarity for all involved, helps prevents conflicts and promotes a culture of transparency and accountability (actually, the same goes for all youth group rules that you create together and communicate). The process made us even grow closer as a team and helped me renew my motivation to be a youth leader. Continue reading The importance of a code of conduct for your youth ministry

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Get your small group to share with awareness questions

You know what it’s like. You’re about to start with your small group with teens and you are sincerely interested in how they are, how they have been these last week or two since you last saw them. But the standard question ‘how have you guys been?’ will result in only one or two kids answering and even their answers will be shallow (unless you’re blessed with one of those over-sharing types in your small group, in which case you may have a different challenge all together). So what question can you kick off your small group session with to really get them to share open and honestly? Here’s my advice: ask an awareness question.

What is an awareness question?

An awareness question is a question you ask, that makes your students aware of a specific emotion or experience in a certain time period, usually the last week or two. Each session you can focus on a different emotion or experience, and as the group gets more open, you can make them more personal.

It’s important that you let each member of the group share his or her experience and that you determine a time limit to prevent long winding stories (2 minutes per person usually works). If you have a group of young teens or if you have a few kids that have a tendency to respond negatively to people’s weaknesses, you might consider telling them not to react to each other’s story with questions or remarks. Just make them listen to each other at first.

Awareness questions can help your small group to share and become closer

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