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Youth ministry management: 10 key principles (part 2)

Yesterday, we discussed the first 6 key principles of good youth ministry management. Today we’ll look at 4 more. Here we go:

7. Expect the unexpected

In a perfect world, everything would go exactly according to plan. Well, you’re a youth leader so you know all about functioning in an imperfect world.

Part of youth ministry management is to expect the unexpected:

  • Never plan your day or your week so full, that there’s no room for crises or urgent matters
  • Always have an ‘unexpected’ post on your budget
  • Whatever you organize, always prepare for what could happen for instance in edical emergencies, personal emergencies, fire, etc.
  • Always, always have your emergency plans up to date and make sure everyone knows them…lives are at stake!
An important principle of youth ministry management is to expect the unexpected and always be prepared for possible emergencies

8. Make check lists

Whenever you’re organizing or managing something that hasn’t been done before, make a list. That way, after a while you’ll have a wide assortment of check lists for loads of events and situations, saving you a lot of time.

I had standard checklists for almost all of our events, like a retreat, a youth service, a Passover meal, a 24 hour prayer chain, etc. Whenever we wanted to organize one of these, I could just pull out the checklist and get started right away.

9. Stay on top

When you dislike the management aspects of youth ministry, you may be tempted to procrastinate and give other things priority. The thing is though that once you’re behind on managerial tasks, you’ll dislike them even more. Besides that, procrastination may have some nasty consequences here, for instance when you’re too late in paying your bills.

Good youth ministry management means staying on top. A good way to do that is to dedicate a certain part of the week to administrative tasks, for instance Monday morning (most of us dislike Mondays anyway, so why not really make it something to look forward too J).

10. Use a logical filing system

Knowing where to find receipts, bills, credit card statements, or address lists not only saves you a lot of time, it also prevents you from losing important documents. You need to set up a good filing system, both for paper documents and for digital files.

Make sure that other people can find something as well, so your system has to be logical. You never know when you may find yourself unable to go to the office…you wouldn’t want anyone else having to dig through piles of trash looking for something, now would you?

Don’t just throw every paper in a binder, make some categories fist and invest in tabs so you know where to find what. Filing per (fiscal) year is usually a good idea.

It’s the same with your digital files. While there’s no need to make subfolders for everything, do make a folder system with broad categories and some subcategories so you can actually find files back. And keep disciplined about it, don’t just dump everything on the desktop (you know, I’ve been using a Mac for so long, I don’t even know what that’s called for a pc, is it called the desktop as well?)

You could also consider digitizing everything by scanning it and putting it in Evernote, as I suggested in an earlier post. I guarantee you, you’ll never lose anything ever again.

The 11th principle

We have discussed 10 key principles to good youth ministry management. I’m convinced that if you apply these principles, your ministry management will improve drastically. But to apply these principles, you may actually need an 11 principle, an underlying factor that will help you succeed in all:


Ultimately, youth ministry management is about being disciplined. It’s about overcoming your natural resistance to certain tasks or systems and doing or using them anyway, knowing it’s for the greater good.

Without discipline, you won’t succeed in anything because you’ll only end up doing the things that you like. But to grow as a leader, to rise above yourself, you need discipline.

Discipline, it’s what separates the men from the boys and the best from the rest.

Do you agree that discipline is crucial when it comes to youth ministry management? How disciplined are you?

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