One of the down sides to being a bi-vocational youth minister is that you wear two hats. You have your 'other job' which if your like me occupies the majority of your time, but God has called you to minister to students right? So when I find things to help me out and make the administrative side of my youth ministry position easy, I'm all over it.
One thing that I have found that makes my life so much easier, is probably considered a cardinal sin. At least it might seem that way if you read some posts my youth ministers in my denomination. Outsource your curriculum! What do I mean by that? If I can buy curriculum made by a reputable company why wouldn't I?
Now disclaimer. I understand this is based on your situation. Your church may not be able to buy curriculum and you may be it. Your church may not allow you to buy curriculum. You may enjoy writing curriculum. I get it, this post may not cover everyone. You may think "Only weak youth pastors buy curriculum", hear me out here.
I'm a BUSY guy, I'm sure if your bi-vocational you are too. After working 42-45 hours a week at my 'other job', taking 12 hours a semester in college, raising two outstanding kids, being a husband, that doesn't leave a lot of time allotted over for youth ministry planning, prep, or execution. When I buy prepackaged curriculum, the only prep I have is studying the lesson to make sure that I can answer questions, etc. That leaves time to spend with the students, which honestly is where they learn the most.
So what are some of my tips on outsourcing?
1: Read over the curriculum, lesson, or sermon before hand!
Make sure the lesson, etc lines up with your churches vision, beliefs, denominational beliefs etc. It would be devastating for you to grab a lesson and have it not line up with your particular churches beliefs.
2: Adapt it to your setting.
One thing I do is steal series ideas. I recently bought the teaching bundle from Download Youth Ministry. I do this a lot. I love taking sermon series that guys like Doug Fields or Josh Griffin have made, drafting my own outlines using their theme, read their manuscript to get illustration ideas, and use their graphic packages. I recently just did the "Facebook Official" Series which Josh did at Saddleback. I will guarantee you outside off the graphic, or series differed considerably and it should! What Josh teaches in Southern CA should be different than what I teach in rural Western KY. We live in different settings. Something tells me if I were to walk into Saddleback wearing Realtree Camo I'd get stared at. (On a side note, that would be hilarious to do. Josh fly me out and we'll try it.) All that to say, make sure you adapt it to your setting.
3: Don't stop at curriculum!
I'm gearing up for our mission trip this summer. Spending a week serving the community of Nashville! I know what your thinking, "Wait! Should you be running around like a mad man? I'm about to go on ours and I know I am!" First, I'll pray for you! Second, the reason I'm not? Group's Week of Hope has me covered. I don't have to stress about booking housing or making sure we have work projects. Group does the work, and we show up and serve. We didn't go this year but we usually do a summer weekend camp, in steps Crossings Camps. Same story, they do the work I look like a champ!
Let them make you look good.
That's just a few ideas. Stay tuned for more as I really examine some tips and tricks I've learned in my time as a bi-vo youth worker. Until next time!
Just Keep Swimming!