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The 3 most common reasons youth workers lose their jobs

 by Aaron Helman | @aaronhelman

At least once a week I hear a story of a youth worker who got fired...

...or was asked to leave.

And after hearing dozens of these stories, I realized these weren't just random events.

People were getting fired for many of the same reasons every single time.

That means that lost ministry jobs aren't random chances based on unique circumstances...

...but instead predictable outcomes.

This is important because if you know what usually gets youth workers fired, you'll know exactly what to avoid

Let's start with what's NOT on this list.

You'll find no mention of boundaries issues, sexual sin, or any of the other scandalous transgressions that get people fired and make headlines.

Of course, we know that these things happen, but they don't nearly constitute the majority of ministry failures. They get the media coverage, but realistically total less than 2% of ministry failure.

If you're looking for a tweet-sized bit of wisdom, it's this-


Ministry failure is not generally due to big controversy, but instead a series of small, repeated mistakes.

In fact, each of the items on this list is the kind of thing that will probably be forgiven if it happens once or twice...

...but if you allow these seemingly innocuous mistakes to become a defining habit, you'll quickly and seriously be in trouble.

Want to keep your job? Don't do these things:

1. Mismanage budgeted money.
Depending on your theology, you're either working with God's money or other people's money, and either way, it's not yours.

You have a responsibility to steward the resources you've been given, and that means you need to figure out what you're doing.

You might not have the background or skills to be a budget wizard, but it's something you can certainly work at.

Bottom line, if you continually lose, waste, or mismanage the church's funds, you'll be looking for a new gig pretty quickly.

2. Complain about your church publicly.
If you spend any time around youth workers, you've heard one or twenty complain about their church's leadership, the lack of parental involvement, the drummer in the praise team, and boring sermons.

And while there might not be anything wrong with honest-to-God venting with a friend, there is something wrong with venting on your Facebook wall or to a congregation member.

If it's public knowledge that you're fed up with your church, people will wonder why you're there...

...and then you won't be anymore.

3. A blatant lack of punctuality.
In the boldest example of this, I've heard stories about youth workers who were - with some regularity - late to their own youth group events.

Not only is this behavior demonstrative of irresponsibility, it's also incredibly disrespectful of people's time.

Believe me, it was probably a far more difficult ordeal for Mrs. Jones to orchestrate her family's schedule so that Tommy would arrive on time...

...than it was for you to wake up from your nap.

Anyone with a secular job knows what would happen if they showed up late for work more than about twice.

You can expect the same thing to happen to you.

But there's something much deeper going on here too and it's not just about showing up to staff meetings on time, because punctuality is almost never the problem.

It's the symptom of a bigger problem, a much bigger problem.

An ongoing lack of punctuality is the most public way to announce that you are disorganized and unprepared, and that's the reason behind the reason that too many youth workers aren't doing youth ministry anymore.

These are a few of the most common indicators.
Of course, there are hundreds of different ways that you can manage to lose your job. Someone could probably start an entire blog dedicating to cataloging the different reasons youth workers have lost their jobs.

But in the stories I've heard over the past four years, at least ONE of these reasons was present virtually every single time.

Keep in mind, if any of these three items currently describes you, I hope you'll start making a few changes.

If you've overcome any of these firable problems, I'd love to hear about how you did it, so tell me about it!

Leave a comment below > > >

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The most impactful ministry I did all week wasn't what I expected...

 by Aaron Helman | @aaronhelman | loading comments...

Last week I wrote messages. I planned events. I went to meetings. A lot of meetings

I spent time training up a few volunteers. I even took the time to have a meal with a student.

That's all good stuff. Certainly those are the things that had a lasting impact, right?

Not the message. Not the events.

Definitely not the meetings.

It wasn't even the training or the one-on-one time I spent with a student.

I didn't do anything last week that mattered more to my students than the time I took to write them personal notes.

At the beginning of every week, I try to make time to sit down and write letters and postcards to handfuls of students. My goal is to write at least ten a week.

Sometimes it's for the leaders who really stepped up...

...and sometimes it's for those who just need to be lifted up.

I send congratulations to students who just got accepted into college or who just made the soccer team, and I send encouragement to those who were rejected and cut.

Last week I scribbled out quick sentences on the backs of pre-printed postcards and I sat down with notebook paper to write letters that went into envelopes.

And just like it happens pretty much every week, I heard back from their parents.

Students were touched, encouraged, thrilled, and even moved to tears to receive a piece of written correspondence from me to them.

I don't have a deep psychological understanding or cross-applicable economic principle that will rock the way you do ministry.

But virtually every single week, I hear more stories about the things I write to students than the things I speak, and I think it's an idea that should be shared.

I still take the time to regularly hand-write notes not because I'm old-fashioned or technologically-challenged...

...but because it still works better than pretty much anything else I do.

I've got a challenge for you.

Take the time to write just five notes to students this week.

Share a comment if you're in. I want to hear if this works for you too.

Leave a comment below. > > >

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How to find five extra hours for your students before this week ends

 by Aaron Helman | @aaronhelman

Struggling to find time for ministry?
It would be great to spend more time with your students.

But who has more time?

Emails, meetings, message prep...

Truth is, we're all busy.

But we simply can't be too busy for our students.

Wouldn't it be great to have a few extra hours this week?

Here's how to get it.

Need to reprioritize your time? Here's how to do it.

There's an economic principle called the law of diminishing returns. Simply, it means that each successive hour you spend on a project is less valuable than the hour before it.

That's why you can throw together a pretty decent sermon graphic in 30-minutes, but it takes a few hours to make one that really sparkles.

The eternal ramifications of that difference are probably pretty small, and I appreciate your high standard of excellence...

...but if your excellent program comes at the cost of your availability to students, it's not worth it.

Hey, that sounds like something that might be worth tweeting.

If your excellent program comes at the cost of your availability to students, it's not worth it.

I want to help you find the time to put youth ministry back into youth ministry, and here's how we're going to do it.

Simplify everything else so that you have time to get involved in your students' complicated lives.

Drop fundraising or drop the projects that require it.
An exotic mission trip sounds like a great idea, but the details behind it can absolutely become your entire job. What good is an awesome summer trip if it causes you to miss out on a semester in the lives of your students?

There are other ways to do mission work.

Count up the number of hours that you'll spend planning the excursion, and the required fundraising. Then ask yourself if that time would make a greater impact if it went directly to your students. The answer might be yes.

Time saved: Up to 3 hours / week.

Maybe you don't need to make a video.
Hey Spielberg, let's be honest. Videos take a very long time to make, and at least sometimes, our students don't like them as much as we do. If your church is large enough to have a media team, that's great...

...but if not, your calling as youth pastor is bigger than your calling as filmmaker. The amount of time that goes into a clever three-minute video might be enough to give you an hour with a student every day this week.

Time saved: Up to 5 hours / week.

End your meetings on time every time.
It's entirely possible that you're losing an hour or more every week due to meetings that run long. I'll give you a minute to think about that...

If you're in charge of the meeting, always make sure it ends on time, even if you're not finished.

If you're not in charge of the meeting, try this:

Set up another appointment a few minutes after your meeting is scheduled to end; preferably with a student. Explain to your boss beforehand that you have to leave right on time, then follow through on that.

Either way if you're regularly creating desk jobs for yourself (or if someone else is doing it for you), there's an excellent chance that you're struggling to get involved in doing life with your students.

Time saved: Up to 1 hour / week.

Did I miss something?
Tell me how you intend to break away from your office and get involved with your students this week. I'd love to hear your story.

I've seen this blog generate some pretty tremendous wisdom in the comments section, and I'd love for you to share yours.

Leave a comment below. > > >

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