I am not sure why I’m locked on to this topic about youth workers getting fired. All is good in my world. But I thought I’d put out a third post and make this a trilogy. Check out the 5 Steps After Getting Fired and the Steps 6-10 posts.
Sometimes things just go awry in church ministry. Being let go from your job is a part of the youth ministry profession.There are times when its nothing you did (like the church is experiencing budget shortfalls) but many times there is some sense of unhappiness with your job performance coming from someone.Whether truth or not, churches will sometimes look for things to be unhappy about so they feel better about exiting you before they head in a different direction with a “Superstar Superman” youth director who will fix all their growth woes.
Here are 5 practices to make you better at your job and make it harder for leaders to find fault:
1) Keep an updated youth contact sheet: “That youth director never once reached out to my son!” Sound familiar? Avoid this by creating a spreadsheet with every single youth name on it connected to the church. Active church families’ teens, inactive church families’ teens, and active youth visitors should all be there. Give the spreadsheet headings: email, text, call, Instagram, FB, visit, etc. Mark down group and personal contact points. (Tip: For the inactive church member students, leave the occasional message in the parents’ voicemail, in addition to the student’s.) This way, you can turn it in once a month to your boss or the board, and they don’t even have to ask.
2) CC your boss: Having a thread of what was said in a sensitive area with an unhappy person never hurts. Also, cc’ing your boss will keep you accountable for what you say. It also lets the unhappy person know you’re willing to work this out and are being transparent.
3) Repeat after me, “I’m sorry, and…”: Too many youth workers come off as defensive. So when someone comes to them with an idea or a complaint, the first words out of the youth worker’s mouth is, “I’m sorry, BUT…” What follows is never good. The “but” immediately sets the complainer’s walls up even higher. Saying, “I’m sorry and I’ll check into that,” or “I’m sorry. I’ll work hard at making sure that doesn’t happen again,” helps the other person to feel heard.
4) Leave a (electronic) paper trail about events: Squelch people’s questions and concerns. Use a program planning sheet for each event so that every staff and leader/volunteer can see details as they fill in. Post it in a Google Drive for people to see at any time or attach each version in emails. (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you my one page version or go to ministryarchitects.com and find their major event notebook freebie.)
5) Be intentional. Never assume: Never assume anyone knows the why behind the what. Don’t leave great follow-up to chance…because it won’t be great follow-up.