Part-time youth ministry seems so easy. Just work 15-20 hours and you’re done with youth ministry for the week. Those who are, or have been, part-time youth ministers know that’s definitely not the case! That’s doubly so if you have family, another job, or school. They say that there is no such thing as part-time ministry, and its true. Part-time youth ministry is as challenging, if not more so, than full time. I know from experience.
When I first graduated from college, my first ministry was part time. It was tough, but being a single guy with no expenses it was manageable. Ministry was all I did, so if I “only” did the required 20 hours or did 30 or 40 it was cool. I was a full-time youth minister for the next 9 years, but earlier this year I found myself back in part-time ministry. Only this time it was different—I had another job working 32+ hours a week, a wife and 3 kids, and to top it all off, I was attending seminary full time. Talk about crazy! Suddenly I had to juggle all these different areas and could not afford to fail in any of them.
Even though it’s tough, there are some concrete steps you can take to maximize your effectiveness in part-time youth ministry. Here are seven things you can do to make juggling all this craziness a little easier…
1. Schedule family time first.
I always heard how hard it was to schedule family time with full time ministry. Honestly, it usually seemed pretty easy because relatively flexibility of my schedule. Now there is no flexibility. I can’t bring my daughter to my other job, or take off of school one night to have a date night. So I have to build family time in first. I have to be extra intentional, because it’s a lot less likely to accidentally happen when every moment is already spoken for. It’s also harder on the family because I’m away more, so I need to make sure they’re a priority.
2. Use “Cracks” in your schedule.
Cracks in the schedule are those off moments you have unexpectedly free. Use them to your advantage. Do you have a 15-minute drive to work? Use that to make some phone calls to students. Have a lunch break? Take your computer with you and work on your lesson. Have a few minutes of free time on the job? Have a youth ministry book on kindle or your smartphone to read. You can use these cracks to check on Facebook or your fantasy football team, or you can use them for your ministry. Use your time wisely.
3. Fill “off hours.”
It’s likely that your ministry has the most flexibility of all your other responsibilities. You can plan lessons, activities, send emails, write on Facebook walls, or whatever at any time of day or night. Maybe you’re a night owl—use those couple hours you have to do something productive. If you’re a morning person, same thing. Use these hours that you can’t fill with other things to be productive.
4. Establish boundaries.
You can quickly become overwhelmed if you don’t establish boundaries in every area of your life when working in part time ministry. Let your church know when you can and can’t do something. Let your job know that there are certain times you can’t possibly work. Learn to say no, and learn well. This can be the one word that helps you keep your sanity.
5. Delegate more.
You only have so many hours in the week. No matter how efficient or effective you are, you are limited by time. What helps break through that limit is learning to delegate more to others. Some of your time each week should be spent equipping your adult volunteers, and then let them minister alongside you. Now the only limit to your ministry is how many volunteers you can recruit and train.
You don’t have a ton of time, so you need to prioritize what tasks you absolutely need to do over those that might be nice but you can get by without. You need to get that lesson prepared. You don’t need to spend 5 hours editing that announcement video. Fill in the big items first, and if you have time you can add in those other things.
7. Get a hobby.
Wait, what does getting a hobby have to do with part time ministry? Because you need to get away. PT ministry, with all of the rest of life thrown in, can be overwhelming. If you don’t intentionally take a day off, find a hobby, or do something to relax you will burn out and quickly. Rest will make more effective by giving you margin in your life.
Part-time ministry is difficult! If you’re in it like me, you know that intimately. Yet you can not only survive but thrive in the challenging and busy world of part time youth ministry. Keep going strong my friends!