Fall is right around the corner and for those of us that are going to start regular youth group gathers up again the countless tasks that come in the school year can seen daunting and 16 months ago that thought was pushing me in a direction that I had feared. I was tired and worn out from running a good sized youth group as the only paid staff and was feeling stressed, exhausted and worried that it was becoming too much. In the midst of those feelings of stress, the thought of bringing on another staff member was increasingly appealing. Dreaming is one thing, but when the rubber meets the road it always comes down to money. The single biggest jump in staffing is from one person to two and is likely the hardest for church leadership to approve but there is another way.
Last year we were in a challenging situation, we were growing, and I was feeling really stretched being by myself. Managing volunteers, talking with parents, feeding the church monster was occupying so much of my time that I needed some help but knew that adding another member to the Journey team was just not in the financial cards. It was time to get creative and think about how to add someone else to the team on the cheap.
I had realized that the one task that took the single most hours to do on its own was prepare the message each week, where I was easily spending 4-8 hours a week prepping for two versions of the same message (Jr and Sr high). I love teaching our students about Jesus but also realized that it was a lot for me to prepare 2 messages per week 35+ weeks per year.
It was from this that I approached a friend of mine named Jason Ballard who is a gifted speaker working for a non-profit called campusfire. He is an incredible communicator of the Bible, but not connected to one youth ministry and seemed like a good person to talk to. I approached him about speaking 2 weeks per month on an honorarium basis and he would be paid the equivalent of one day of my salary, thus 1/10 the cost of me. Considering the cost of a full time staff, plus health care, dental, cell phone and other costs this is a steal of a deal. When I laid out the case to the leadership team, they jumped at it and the effect that it has had on the ministry and my sanity has been profound.
Having Jason come in has freed up 8-16 hours of my month, but also allowed me to be much more relationally available on the nights that I was not teaching which has been a blessing to the students and myself. I now have someone to collaborate on resources with and help plan out the teaching schedule for the year as well as bounce ideas and challenges off of. We get along great and have complementary skill sets and a shared passion for young people and its been an awesome year.
So if you are feeling maxed out like I was, perhaps its time to pitch it to your church that adding $4-$6k per anum speaker honorarium budget for a regular guest speaker. It’s a great use of funds and could be the thing keeps you from what could become a burnout situation.