This guest post was written by Sarah Ables.
Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run, but hurry and scurry puts you further behind. – Proverbs 21:5 MSG
You have likely heard it said before that the church should not be run like a business. While I mostly agree with that statement, I do think that many leaders could benefit from borrowing a few skills and practices from the corporate world of project management.
Using key organizational practices in our ministries can help combat fatigue/burnout and help ensure that we are free to do the ministry God has called us to do, knowing the smaller details are already under control.
Here are 5 organizational practices that children’s ministry leaders should borrow from the corporate world that can make a huge difference in your ministry.
1. A Rolling Yearly Calendar
Have you ever had to compete with another ministry for time, volunteers, or resources? God does not want us to compete against each other in the church, but sometimes we find ourselves doing just that.
Creating a calendar for your ministry and your church that allows you to plan ahead, instead of just keeping up, can help ease this frustration and ensure that the church is working together as God intended, and not against itself.
Knowing what is coming up in the next few months with firm dates can also help with volunteer recruiting and outreach.
2. A Project (Ministry) Plan
A well-written ministry plan for every event is worth its weight in gold.
This plan should be an overview of the work that needs to be completed, as well as who is going to complete certain parts of it. This plan should help determine a timeline of due dates for all aspects of the event, as well as the materials, resources, and time that is needed to complete the work in order to meet the deadline.
Having a ministry plan in place that can be shared with your volunteers can help lighten the load on your shoulders as well as provide clarity on responsibilities and due dates.
3. Job Descriptions
Speaking of clarity on job responsibilities, children’s ministry leaders should have written and carefully planned out job roles and descriptions.
In a corporate setting, you usually get to see a written job description before you apply or are asked to take on a new role. Your ministry should certainly have the same descriptions available. Volunteers need to know what they are being asked to do, and often they may not know everything that goes into saying yes to serving.
Being able to direct them to an overview of your ask helps clarify the responsibilities they are being asked to take on, and provides clear communication which prevents misunderstanding and unmet expectations.
4. An Interview and Follow Up Process
Recruiting is a big deal in the corporate world because every good leader knows that having the right people in place can mean the difference between success and struggle. The ministry world is no different.
We know that there are never enough hands to do the work that is needed, but taking time to really know your volunteers through an interview and follow-up process can help you, your volunteer, and your ministry succeed.
There are tons of online templates you can find to help with this, but be sure you are asking the questions that you need to know for your church. When the right people are serving in the right place, there is usually less stress, less burnout, and less turnover, which leads to deeper connections with each other, with the church, and ultimately with our Father.
5. Email Savvy
I know that as ministry leaders we have a whole list of things that we see as more important than checking our email, but responding in a timely fashion to church staff, volunteers, and parents can be a critical part of ministry organization. An overly full inbox can cause you to miss important communications, increase your stress level, and decrease your productivity.
Many email servers currently have rules that can be written so that all “junk” mail can be put into a folder so you don’t see it. You can use flags to quickly identify important emails you need to follow up on so that they don’t get lost. You can create contact lists for volunteers to send mass communications, without having to remember who needs to get the email. Most providers now also have a send-delayed feature that will allow you to draft an email and have it be sent at a later time.
Taking the time to clean out and organize your inbox, as well as making your email work for you and not against you is time well spent.
Implementing a few of these organizational practices into your ministry can help every leader get and stay organized and be able to do the work God has called them to do, without getting overwhelmed. These simple practices can have a far-reaching impact on you, your volunteers, and the families you get to serve.
Sarah Ables has been serving at Central College Presbyterian Church for 11 years in Children’s Ministries. She is employed full-time as a project manager in the financial industry but is excited that she also gets to use her skills to support leaders who serve children and families. Sarah lives in Ohio with her husband of 19 years and her 15-year-old son. They enjoy doing puzzles, playing board games, and singing loudly to musicals.