Tip: Bring Snacks to Share!
It doesn't matter what size your ministry is, chances are, your budget isn't big enough. We could all use a few more dollars (or a few more hundreds of dollars) to help make our student ministry budgets stretch a little further. But getting more isn't always as easy as spending more. So creative ways to help maximize the budget are always good. Let me share a few helpful tips that have been helpful to me and my budgeting.
BRING SNACKS TO SHARE!
Food consumption at events is always questionable. How much pizza should we order? How many bags of chips? Ten 2-litters or twenty? Get too little and you run out too soon. Get too much and you might blow your budget. So here is what I have done for years.
When planning for your event, ask you students to bring snacks to share. I have asked for as few as one bag of chips/pretzels/cookies, to three items of snacks to share. Simply state on your promotional material that your admission is to bring a snack to share.
I have even gone as far as including a suggested snack list with specific items we would like to serve. So when we host our viewing party for the big football game, I suggest items such as wings, buffalo dip, veggies, pizza, subs, cupcakes.
There are even times when we spring for the main food items like hot dogs and hamburgers for our year end cook out, our of the program budget. We then ask the students to bring "picnic/cook-out" foods to share.
Never have I ever ran out of food when asking for snacks. Usually I am able to stock my shelves for a couple of weeks with what is left over.
Caution though. Don't go overboard and don't ask all the time. While parents are usually gracious, the constant ask does become annoying. Plus if you are asking all the time, it might lead parents to wonder what's up with your budget. And that could go either way; good or bad.
In just a few weeks, we will host our first "Big Game" night. We are asking students to bring a drink and one "football" snack item to share. It should be a lot of fun with plenty to snack on.
Tip: Give them the authority to do.
One of your jobs as a youth worker is to help your leaders succeed. We want them to do ministry, to share in the joy of discipling students, to watch them grow in their own faith. To help them succeed we must do what we can to bring them to the place where they can do the things that God has prepared them for. One of the ways we help our leaders succeed is by giving them authority to do.
To do what?
To do ministry?
I learned many years ago that our leaders want to do ore than sit in the back of the room serving as security or waiting around till the end of the night to help with clean up. Your leaders want to do ministry, but sometimes they don't know what they have the authority to do. So give them the authority.
Be sure to tell them that they have the ability and the authority to DO ministry. They can do the one-on-ones, the small group study, the after school sporting events, the band concerts, the musicals and plays. Tell them that they can send the emails, text messages, and notes of encouragement.
Without the authority to do ministry, your leaders will never know that they can do ministry. So tell your leaders that they have the authority to DO ministry. And help them get started doing what they have been called to do, minister to students!
Tip: Family First, Do Something with your Child.
I have five children. I also work part-time at a local restaurant, part-time launching a media company, and 3/4 time for the church as the pastor and youth pastor. Time is precious. But spending time with each one is tricky.
Recently, I made a point to spend time with with one either one-to-one or in smaller groups. I took one for breakfast. I took one for dinner. I took one shopping. I took three to lunch. I took two to run errands. Anything I could do to get time with them, I tried to make it happen.
If you are a parent, it is super important that you make the time to spend with your child. As youth workers, our job is to spend time with students, building them up, teaching them, encouraging him, discipling them. And we give them our time and attention doing so.
But if we don't take the time to do the same with our kids, then we're missing an incredible opportunity to ministry to our family first.
So set aside some time to be intentional with your kids. Make plans to do something with them.
Tip: Family First, Flowers for your Bride.
Ministry takes time. A lot of time. Sometimes in the midst of our ministry we forget about our first ministry, our families. If you are married, your first ministry is to your family.
Our tip for today is the first in a short series that will help to remind us to put our family first. YWTD #62 is, Bring your wife flowers. (Or, bring your husband his favorite snack.)
My wife often reminds of the days when I would bring home a bouquet of cut flowers and how much she loved it. It's a simple gesture of love and "I'm thinking of you."
It was often on payday. I would cash my little check, swing by the local grocery store, grab a bouquet of $5 flowers, and rush home to my beautiful wife. I don't know exactly what it is about flowers that makes women smile. What I do know is, women like to know that they are loved.
So surprise your wife with a simple bouquet of flowers, and let her know that she is loved.
Of course, if you are the wife, and you need to bring something home for your hubby, I suggest picking up his favorite snack. I love when my wife surprises me with crackers, cheese, and pepperoni. Or a box of Little Debbie Swish Rolls. Or a package of Swedish Fish. When I see those items, I know she was thinking of me that day.
Husband or wife...LOVE YOUR SPOUSE.
Tip: Keep It Simple.
Sometimes life has its moments of complication. Decisions. Stress. Relationships. Difficulties. Likewise, ministry has its moments of complication.
Some moments of complication can't be avoided. Relationship. Counseling. Caring for students. While we love it, it can be a complex course to navigate as we deal with personalities and conditions that we can't control. But a lot of the complication we deal with we create.
Scheduling conflicts. Overbooked calendars. Miscommunication. Over programming. Over committments. Too much structure. Complicated ministry strategies. Lack of help and leadership. In many cases we create the complexity by going over board in areas of our ministry that shouldn't be complicated.
For example. There was a season in my ministry, a number of years ago where I was over doing it. I was teaching four different studies. I had our Sunday morning high school class and our Sunday night youth group. Then there was the mid-week Bible study and an adult study that we sponsored every other Friday night as part of our family ministry. Along with teaching there were still the administrative needs, promotional responsibilities, and other "ministry" related items that fell under the umbrella of "youth pastor." And on top of all of that, I was taking a class at the local seminary.
Ministry shouldn't be that complicated. But it was because I made it that way. I found my self building this massive ministry that tried to include anyone while attempting to meet the needs of everyone. I built a complex system of programs and activities that were suppose help change students lives. But really all that the complexity did was make me really tired at the end of the day.
Now as a church planter serving as lead pastor and youth pastor, I find myself again looking at the threat of complicated ministry. Only four months into our inaugural year, I am being reminded that ministry isn't about the systems and programs as much as it is keeping ministry simple.
Yes, ministry can be, and should...SIMPLE.
What is simple?
Meeting a student for coffee and conversation. Having lunch with a volunteer leader. Praying with a parent over the phone because their teen was just in a bad situation. These are simple things.
Working your teaching schedule to teach the same thing instead of fourteen. Or better, enlisting your volunteers to help with teaching responsibilities makes ministry simple.
Taking control of your calendar and learning how to prioritize and manage your time makes your life simple.
Being able to say "No." when it's appropriate makes ministry simple.
I've been reading a helpful book called, Simple Church. The point of the book is that ministry should be simple and how we minister should be simple. For instance, our goal is to see the lives of students radically transformed for the glory of God. How does that happen? It happens as God transforms the heart of the student. How does that happen? By allowing God to use our ministry to move the student through a process of strategic ministry programs designed to accomplish a specific purpose.
We want to see four things happen in a students life. Step 1. We want to see them be introduced to the love and grace of God. Step 2. We want them to connect with the body of Christ through a small group ministry. Step 3. We want to see them use their God-given gifts to serve others around them. Step 4. We want their lives to become lives of worship and honor as they live for God.
Our goal is to move each student through our four points so that they grow in their faith and relationship with God. To help us accomplish this we are creating a SIMPLE ministry strategy. For Step 1. We host our weekend gathings where student can come, bring their friends, and have fun while being introduce to Christ love through various forms of communication. Step 2. includes the creation of our small group ministry. Every student who demonstrates a commitment to our entry level ministry is asked to join a small group. Step 3. Teaches them they place in the body as they discover there gifts and begin to use them in the ministry of serving. Step brings them full circle as now they are attending a weekly worship and bringing friends, participating in community as a member of a small group and serving the large purposes of God with their gifts and talents.
It's simple. None of the extra, time-&-energy-sucking work that would keep us frustrated.
The Simple Church, is a great book that is really helping me to streamline what God has called us to and. There is more I want to say about the book, but will have to wait for another post.
In the meantime, evaluate your ministry. Is it simple? Or is its structure of complex passage ways that he leave you feeling lost, alone, and burned-out. If you are over programming and over working, you will want to begin thinking about how you might begin simplying your ministry.
Tip: Be Creative in Your Planning.
Being the student ministry of a church plant, there isn't much left in the budget for programming. But I want to create events that my students love, would bring their friends to, and won't cost the budget an arm and a leg.
Yesterday I share the tip of having students bring snacks to your event as a way to conserve your financial resources. Today's tip is similar.
BE CREATIVE IN YOU PLANNING.
We all want to host the event that student remember for the rest of their lives while maximizing opportunities to build relationships and share Jesus. Sometimes a little creative planning is necessary to make both a reality. Here are few Creative Planning Tips.
1. Free is ALWAYS GOOD. The best way to save the budget is to host events that won't cost you anything. In just about every community there are activities that you can do that are free to the public. Parks, hiking trails, playgrounds, community activities, and the backyard are great places to start look. Also, keep an eye on your local media outlets for local events that are no-charge events. But when looking into the "free" options, be sure you know what you are getting into. Free maybe good, but not always great. At the same time, games nights, movie nights, or special TV watching parties are always great "free" activities. There is a lot to do that is free, if you take the time to look.
2. Look for the Low Cost Possibilities. Sometimes you can't avoid a the "fee-factor." When this is the case, check to see if there are low cost options to consider. For example. Our students have talked about going ice skating this winter. I have called around to a few ice rinks for group/party rates because they are usually cheaper then general admission. But the price per student was still pretty steep. Unless I could guarantee a very large group, the cost would do us in. The Low Cost Option. We have a local Christian Radio station in our community. Every winter they host "Family Skate Nights" at selected ice rinks. The station rents the entire rink, supplies a DJ (that means Christian music will be played) and offers tickets at greatly discounted rates! SCORE! Now I can take my group ice skating. The price is right. The event location is covered. And I know that the activity will be "up-lifting."
3. Tag-Team Your Next Event. Another way to keep cost down is to tag-team with other local ministries. By pooling your resources you reduce the financial impact to your budget, increase the potential for a more successful event, share the planning and organizing responsibilities, and increase your target audience! Over the years I have had the opportunity to share events with a number of great ministries. Not only is it a great way to create events for your students, it's awesome opportunity to do Kingdom Ministry on a larger scale. Working with local ministries is a wonderful testimony to the community and a great way to knock down the "other-church" walls that we too often put up out of our own pride and fears. (That's another blog topic right there.)
Anyhow, I hope these three ideas help you as you think about your low-cost events. I will be sharing some of the low-cost events that I have hosted over the years in the coming weeks. So keep your eyeson the blog!