Is your youth ministry original? Feels like it needs to be, doesn’t it? When your ministry is original, it’s fresh, and exciting. In fact isn’t the reason teens leave your ministry due to the fact that you aren’t wowing them anymore? Yes and no. While originality is important, it isn’t the only way to shape your youth ministry’s identity. In fact if you can REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE what you already have, you’ll create capacity to do more. It’s not always about the activities, message or curriculum present. It’s about the environments and relationships you set-up. Unfortunately, if you are constantly worrying over new content and new ideas, you’ll miss out on some of the most important aspects of youth ministry.
To create more capacity, to focus on what’s important you need to make sure that originality isn’t standing in the way. When you reduce, reuse and recycle it gives you margin. This is how:
REDUCE: Clutter is one of the biggest obstacles to creativity. In order to free up new ideas you need to go through your files and folders and throw away the ones that have been lingering around for too long. Sitting in messiness is also a recipe for a cluttered mind. If you have time clean your desk, your office and reduce the amount of distractions pulling you from your projects. To reduce in your ministry create systems when you are storing ideas and then cleaning inboxes, file cabinets and desktop folders. A weekly habit is best.
REUSE: Don’t be afraid to duplicate your efforts, especially if it worked before. It’s easy to just toss something away after you’ve spent hours and days working hard on it; however, before you toss it, archive it instead. There might be a time when you need to use that same message, that same exercise or activity. In fact look to pass it on and share it with a youth minister friend who could benefit from your hard work. It will save time and energy the next go around. To reuse without sabotaging you reducing efforts, give your reuse folder an expiration date. It’s on that date you can determine if this idea or activity is still useful.
RECYCLE: Outsourcing is one of the best ways you can do something new. There are so many people out there with great ideas, willing to share them with you. In the end you don’t always have to be original. If you can take an idea here and another there (With permission) and work them together, you’ll find something fresh. To recycle properly just break the outsourced material into components, separate them and answer the question, “What can I adapt for my ministry?” Maybe it’ll work well with another resource, but don’t be afraid to try.
When you can save yourself some time on creativity you can give yourself more margin. When you have this margin you can pour into your leaders, the students and parents of your ministry. As a leader you don’t have to spend your time sitting behind a desk trying to come up with something new. Look to your fellow youth workers and to what you’ve done before. Make sure you set yourself up for success by taking away the junk.
How do you reduce, reuse and recycle in your youth ministry?