Newsflash: You have more to do than you have time to do!
Solution: Get help and let go!
How do you find and empower folks who can help you with your ministry? What do you need help with? Is there anything you’re doing that someone else can do?
- Fundraiser organization
- Retreat and mission trip logistics
- Communication, attendance tracking, web updating
- Lock-in details
What must YOU do in youth ministry? What can someone else do? Each of these is an opportunity for someone to help you and to share the responsibility of the ministry. The Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT) and Youth Ministry Architects (YMA) like to call these wonderful helpers “major event coordinators” or MECs for short. This article will help you find them in your church.
They are everywhere
You have parents in your program and folks in your church who run fundraisers for the Women’s Circle, for the band, for their kids’ soccer teams, who organize teams for fundraising walks, or who volunteer weekly at their kids’ schools. These folks run the concession stand for at the baseball fields and organize scout trips. I’d bet several moms are coming to mind, but dads are great coordinators and worker bees, too. What dads coach soccer teams, love to do mission projects, or run companies? These folks know how to organize, raise money, and do things for all kinds of people. Why not for you and the youth ministry? Look down your list of parents and church members and make a list of anyone who could be a major event coordinator.
You must ASK them
Are you still waiting for folks to respond to your listing in the bulletin, the volunteer form that you gave out at the parents’ meeting, or the church wide stewardship campaign? Expect to keep waiting. If you want help, then you have to ask.
Got your list? The next step is to create a list of things that they might lead or organize for you and the ministry. After you have your list of major events that someone could help you coordinate, go back over your church member list and prayerfully consider what major event each person would be gifted to lead based on what you know about them.
Now it’s time to smile and dial. You are going to get some “no”s, but for every “yes” you get you’ll save significant time and expand your foundation for ministry at your church.
When you talk with them, don’t read the entire list of projects and ask them to pick something. Tell them that you have something that you think they can specifically help you with. Be specific in your ask and be prepared to answer questions related to time commitment and responsibilities. After you get a “yes,” you will want to set up a meeting to clearly communicate to the major event coordinator what you are asking them to do.
Have a job description that describes what you are specifically asking them to do (see below). Make sure they know that they will resource them in their role. They will only do what you ask them; so if you don’t want to do it, make sure they know it’s a part of their role.
MEC Job Description
Objective: To oversee the building of a volunteer team and the completion of all details related to a specific major youth ministry event.
- Meet with the youth staff well before the event (typically between three and 12 months prior, depending on the event) to develop an implementation plan.
- Recruit key volunteers needed for the event.
- Ordinarily, ensure that there is a ratio of one adult to every five youth involved in a youth sponsored event.
- Publicity: Print up flyers six weeks before the event, giving a copy to the youth staff. Four weeks prior to the event, make sure that flyers are in appropriate Sunday School classes, posted on the appropriate bulletin boards, and placed on tables near the entrance to the sanctuary and fellowship hall. Two weeks prior to the event, contact the appropriate person to ensure that an announcement about the event is included in the Sunday service leaflet and mail a reminder card.
- Logistics: Food, transportation, pick up and drop off times and locations, contact person for the event with a distributed cell phone number.
- Registration: Ensure forms are mailed to all youth families and forms are available on the bulletin board. Collect any money or forms required for the event.
- Photography: Designate an adult as the photographer for the day, and have the photographer give pictures to the publicity point person of the youth committee after the event.
- Recruiting: Make personal contact with youth and parents to ensure that the participation target is reached. Coordinate with the youth director about collecting RSVPs. Mobilize a phone calling team with a core group of kids who have already signed up for the event. Take attendance and turn in attendance information to the youth staff.
- Oversee the work of other volunteers in handling the publicity, food, decorations, program, logistics (transportation, set up, clean up, etc.), and technical needs for the event.
- Partner with and mentor at least one youth who will serve as a part of the leadership team for this event. (Optional)
- Prepare an event notebook to be used by the next year’s coordinator of this event, or add to the existing notebook.
- Execute the event in a way that is consistent with the values of the youth ministry and helps the youth ministry accomplish its mission and goals.
- Determine a target number of participants for the event, and develop a promotional process for reaching that target.
Here are are some samples that will be help as you recruit MECs for your congregation that you can download and edit for your church:
Make sure they have what they need to successfully accomplish the task that you’ve given them. Give them a list of others who have said they would volunteer for this event or a list of parents to contact. Give them the folder with information about how this event has been done in the past (unless it is a first time event). Give them a tax exempt form. Make sure they know about church policies for being reimbursed. Make sure they know the budget. Give them what they need and make yourself available for them to ask more questions.
Let Them Do It!
Now, let them do it! Ask them, resource them, and then empower them to make a difference in your ministry and for the Kingdom!
Don’t micromanage, but take the time to follow up with them to make sure things are moving forward and see if they need any help. If you end up needing to help, it’s OK. They are learning and whatever they do was something you didn’t have to.
Thank them for their service. Write them a letter. Celebrate them. Let them know the impact of their time on the ministry. They deserve it and grateful leaders get more helpers.