There will never be enough time to do everything you want in your youth ministry. I hear youth pastors say it over and over again … “I am just in a busy season, and when it is done, I will have enough time to do _________________.”
You only have 40 hours a week. As long as you are in youth ministry, your time will easily escape you.
Youth ministry is all about relationships. Relationships take time, and building relationships with students, leaders and parents is what youth pastors need to spend all of their time doing.
Youth pastors waste a lot of time:
—doing data entry and managing databases.
—writing talks that most of our students will never remember.
—developing and maintaing budgets.
—tracking youth group attendance.
—creating expense reports.
—searching and engaging social media websites, a.k.a., Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
—writing and returning emails.
—creating creative elements. For example, series graphics, newsletter templates, ministry logos, creating funny videos, etc.
The listed items above are only a few of the many time-wasters in student ministry.
In this post, my only hope is to get youth pastors to spend more time on what really matters in youth ministry—BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. My point: Save time in youth ministry by automating, which will allow you to spend more time doing what really matters.
This is why I am a big advocate for finding areas in your youth ministry that you can automate. Automating certain areas in your youth ministry means finding areas in your youth ministry that can operate automatically.
Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. —Bill Gates
Automating doesn’t mean you are lazy. Automating means you are smart.
So let’s explore different ways a youth pastor can automate certain areas of their youth ministry. I put together a list of eight ways youth pastors can save time by using online tools:
(8) Email marketing. Emailing your parents and leaders about what is happening in your ministry is powerful tool. One way to automate your emails is by creating auto responders. Auto responders are emails that are sent out automatically in a sequence that you determine. My favorite email marketing online tool is Mail Chimp.
(7) Social-media management. How do you possibly manage all of your social-media profiles? And how do you know whom to engage and respond to on social media? My favorite social-media management tool is Hootsuite. With Hootsuite you can access all of your social media in one place. You can select which “streams” you view, which can even include any keywords that you would like to track. You can then schedule multiple posts on multiple platforms.
(6) Invest in a youth ministry management software. My favorite church management software is Breeze. Breeze is super cheap and easy for any small- to medium-size church. It saves time and money by speeding through your administrative tasks. Breeze allows fast data entry, sends email alerts, looks up people really fast, organizes and communicates with groups, does check-in and event reports, is friendly on desktop, laptop or mobile device, creates forms, quickbooks and planning center online integration, and imports old existing data into the Breeze management system.
(5) Find handy apps that create expense reports. Creating expense reports is a pain in the butt. They take up so much time. So find an app that can help generate expense reports. My favorite is Expensify. Also, Mashable has a post titled 7 Handy Iphone Apps for Creating Expense Reports.
(4) Use fiverr.com. Fiverr is an incredible website where you can pay someone $5 to basically do anything. That’s right. If you need a video, graphic design, a voiceover or any online service, use fiverr.com. *I will admit searching through fiverr.com can be very addictive and a big time waster. So search wisely.
(3) Find great ministry forms. Your youth ministry needs forms and documents. And forms take a long time to create. My ultimate favorite forms resource is developed by The Rocket Company. In the Rocket Company’s System Bundle PLUS, they will give you seven system resources:
- Docs and Forms—120-plus ready-to-use or ready-to-customize documents that will save you time.
- Reach—it’s all about how to do advertising and outreach right so there will be more people in church.
- Inspire—it’s all about inspiring volunteers so they love what they do. More volunteers = more ministry.
- Next—it’s all about following up with guests, givers and new Christians. Don’t just reach people … keep people.
- Why Nobody Reads Your Emails—a super practical eBook that will help every ministry in your church get the message through.
- Know the Numbers—a practical resource on how to build a broke-proof church budget that really works.
- 39 Things Pastors Need to Know About Money—half of them are about church and the other half will help YOU save thousands of dollars. This resource is NOT available in the store—it’s only available as a part of The Systems Bundle Plus.
Bottom line: These seven systems will save you time, reduce stress and grow your student ministry.
(2) Use curriculum. Outsource your teaching. Creating content from scratch takes forever. Trust me, I work for a student ministry curriculum organization, and creating content takes a long time. You don’t need to spend a large majority of your time writing sermons. In fact, Adam McLane says it best in his post, We Do Our Own Thing. Doing your own thing takes a lot of time. For example, XP3 Students gives you large-group scripts/outlines, small-group questions, social-media plans both for students and parents, parent resources, resources for creating your student ministry environment, an experiential activity, and an insane amount of graphic support. Using curriculum immediately gives you a lot of resources that will save you a lot of time and make you look like a rockstar.
(1) Use free budgeting software. Most youth pastors are horrible at managing money. The best way to manage money is creating solid budgets. If you oversee a youth ministry at a church, then more than likely you oversee a budget. Here are six free budgeting online software tools you can use right now. There’s no need to stress about creating and maintaing budgets. Use online tools to help you.
I gave you my list of great online tools that help youth pastors automate their youth ministry, so what are your online tools that help you save time?