I wish I could say that I was called to be a lead pastor, but I have been called to be the assistant. I have worked in ministry for just about 9 years now, since I was a teenager, and all of that work has been as an assistant to an appointed full time pastor or ministry leader. While I do enjoy teaching and preaching, my absolute favorite part of ministry is the administrative side. I love working in the background, planning, prepping, answering emails, running a computer, being a secretary and an “organizer” as the Bible calls it in 1 Corinthians 12:28. That’s right, being an “organizer” is listed as a part of the body of Christ alongside the preachers and teachers, prophets and apostles. Still, for many, it is the boring or difficult part of the youth leader job. It’s the part that requires us to be on top of paperwork, finances, and permission slips among other tasks. Unfortunately, for many leaders, this is the part that gets pushed to the back burner although it carries much importance. If you’re a leader who struggles with the administrative part of your ministry, here are a few tips that are essential to getting everything organized and to help ensure that this small but important part of ministry is run with excellence.
1. Ask yourself if you are an organizer.
There are some people who just are not good at organizing. They don’t like paperwork, never answer emails, and their desk usually looks like a tornado hit it. If you are one of those persons who would rather go to a dentist appointment than organize papers in a filing cabinet, you need to be real about it, and admit it. If you do not have the organizing gift in you, or feel that cannot give that part of your ministry enough attention, consider finding someone to join your team who can take on that role.
2. Say what you mean to say.
It can be very difficult to delegate tasks and responsibilities and sometimes even when we do, we don’t do a very good job of it. If you are delegating tasks to others, be clear about what you expect. Don’t assume that others will know what you mean or be able to read your mind. Administrative work often involves many small, detailed tasks and not being 100% clear about an intricate detail can have negative impacts on the bigger picture of things. If you are a lead pastor working with an administrator, that line of communication has to be 100% clear and accessible.
3. Do a little at a time.
Much of the administrative tasks that need to be done in a ministry are a process. Depending on what your church or ministry policies are, they can even take a few days. Setting up a list of goals or tasks to be done each day can help you work through those processes and keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Take your big projects and look at them as smaller goals to be completed.
4. Be realistic.
It’s important to dream big and take on big projects, but always be realistic about what you can manage. If your dream is to build a $1000 stage design in the youth room, make sure your budget can support that dream. Many times, the administrative side of ministry is what will bring us back down to reality. It’s the part of ministry that reminds us how big or small our budget it, how many hours it takes to travel, how much food it takes to feed teenagers and just how many hours it takes to plan events that often only last a few hours. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Know what you can and cannot do from the logistical side of your ministry and allow that to serve as stepping stones in your goals.
As a leader friend of mine once said, “We dream big, but start small”. Making big plans without considering the logistics will often end in incomplete goals or big debts in the budget.
5. Don’t procrastinate.
Sounds simple. Some of you have been hearing this words since you were in school. That’s because it is good advice. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today. If you need to request a check, make hotel reservations, order food, or buy supplies, give yourself enough time to do it. Don’t buy in to the lie that you work better under pressure. Start early and use your time wisely. I made many administrative mistakes that could have been avoided if I had taken the time to complete them sooner instead of later.
6. Learn from others.
There is no shame in asking for help. Lean on your senior pastors, adults in the church, or mentors who have been down the road before. There are so many different ways to complete tasks and responsibilities; find out how others operate and take tips and pointers from them.
Although not many see the actual work it takes to keep a ministry running, the truth is that the background work to ministry can be just as important to the work that is in the spotlight. Yes, making copies, answering emails, and requesting checks are all a part of the kingdom work! Be encouraged and know that your work is not in vain.
Aisha Loya is a full time English Teacher from Pharr, TX. She also serves as the Fine Arts Coordinator and Administrative Assistant to the District Youth Director for the Texas Gulf Youth Ministries of the Assemblies of God. Her greatest passion is seeing youth be connected to Christ and their calling in the Kingdom. For more tips on Ministry organizing and administration, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.