The Business Side of Ministry
Are we just cargo shorts wearing, video game loving, pizza eaters who spend all of our time hanging out with teenagers, or is there more to being a youth pastor?
The short answer of course is yes. If pressed, most youth workers would say that they would love their jobs so much more if they could simply spend time with their students, building relationships and sharing the love of Jesus with them. However, there is so much more to ministry than that, and if we do not learn the administrative side of ministry, we will fail to reach our potential.
The truth is that a growing number of us struggle with how to win in our churches. I believe that we do not always do a great job of teaching new youth workers the business side of the ministry. We all know that to run a ministry, we need a lot of buy-in from different people. We are called and trusted by God, our family, our students and their parents, the leadership of the church, and the congregation as a whole, to be good stewards of the ministry that we have been given.
I want to be clear here. You may be thinking to yourself, “David, listen, not all of us are A-Type personality administrators.” I hear you. Take a deep breath. I am not at all naturally administrative. I am a hardcore procrastinator. Administration is something I have learned along the way. Take comfort in knowing that it is not all about numbers and spreadsheets. Taking time to be intentional in some key areas will not only produce buy-in within your church, but will also help you to be a more effective leader. Here are some practical things that you can do to get buy-in from your church.
1. Intentional Conversations
When having the opportunity to share the great things about your ministry, be sure to prepare for each encounter. I have implemented Doug Franklin’s 30-3-30 Plan. The idea is to prepare a thirty second, three minute, and thirty minute response. This allows you to give more than the typical response that all is well, busy, and God is good. That is true, but your congregation wants more. The better you prepare for each encounter, the better chances you have of winning someone over.
A good example of a thirty second response would be:
“Thank you so much for asking about our student ministry! As you know, our mission is to share the love of God by engaging students where they are. Our students have had a wonderful time at camp this year and God really called them to step up and be leaders in their schools. Would you consider praying specifically that He would give them the strength and wisdom to be strong leaders and witnesses in their schools?”
This does three things.
First, it challenges your congregation to know what your ministry is really about. The stigma to youth ministry is that we play more than we disciple. Using the phrase: “As you know..” implies the person you are talking to should already know what you’re about, and when they don’t, they are automatically challenged to know more about what is going on in their church.
Secondly, you get the chance to be specific about where you guys are, and challenges them to partner with you in prayer. Prayer changes hearts. The more you pray for someone or something, the more you begin to have a passion for the people or things you are praying for.
Lastly, that opens you up to partnering with that person. As that passion builds, you can have more intentional conversations with them to get them more active in your ministry. That is where the three minute, and thirty minute conversations can happen.
2. Build Intentional Ministry Teams
The most liberating, yet terrifying realization in my time as a youth pastor is that you do not have to do ministry alone. We often preach to our students that they don’t have to go through life alone, yet we don’t heed our own words. A lot of youth pastors that I have spoken to have shared that they would love to build a leadership team, but either don’t know how or don’t believe they have anyone who would be willing to be a part of their team. The reality is that it is not as hard as it may seem. The way I approach building a team typically happens over coffee or a meal. Take the time to prepare before your meetings. Be sure to figure out what they are passionate about and if that does not already exist in your ministry, expand your ministry to include those passions. It may be something that could reach a whole new group of students. That is a huge win!
Building a team may take time, but the more you invest in preparation, the better chance you have of building your team. We have a student leadership team and an adult leadership team within our youth and worship ministries. We make decisions together. We plan, dream, and create events that I would never have imagined on my own. If you don’t have a team, please build one. Start with an adult leadership team. That may consist of the parents you have that go to youth events, drive a van, or cook a meal. They don’t have to show up to all the events to help you plan. I open up those meetings to the whole congregation to know the various things we have to offer, and how they can partner with us. We have had random people stop in, and as they see our needs, have offered up resources and ideas we would not have had without their input.
At the end of the day, it is about assuring that the voice of the people we are called to serve is heard, respected, and carefully considered. When a volunteer knows that you value their thoughts and passions, you create the buy in that we are all seeking.
3. The Pitch Meeting
We have all been there. You have all of these creative ideas that will revolutionize your ministry, but there’s a catch. To realize your creative dreams, you have to have money and resources to pull them off. This is where many youth workers really struggle. A lot of youth ministry budgets are being slashed each year. How you pitch what you need to your leadership or finance team makes a massive difference.
As a graphic designer, I know that it is vital to sell each design as if it were a product that the client absolutely has to have. The same is true in your meetings. We have our annual budget meeting in October. That is an opportunity that I have to impress our finance and leadership teams each year. I think it is important to walk in prepared, anticipating as many questions as you can. I know most of the questions they will have before getting there, because I have built a relationship with everyone on our team. I know what they are passionate about, and I know what they feel is unimportant in ministry. By knowing that, I can better anticipate their questions, and put together a well thought out presentation.
I present three budget plans every year. The Bare Bones Plan, The Dream Plan, and The Reach For The Sky Plan. Each plan has the basic essentials that we need to function, and increase from there. I detail out the various programs, events, and any renovation or expansion ideas and new equipment we might need or want for the upcoming year. I put together a slide show that has visuals of each item, event, or new idea at various price points. I think that showing them three price points really help your leadership teams know that you have done your research, and that you know exactly what you need to pull it off.
My experience has been that the leadership and finance teams never want their ministries operating on a bare bones budget. They want their ministries to thrive. The reality is that they can either give you the money in your budget, or they can give you the money at your fundraisers. More time than not, your team will want you to spend your time focusing on discipleship, rather than fundraising, although I believe it is really important to raise money as well. This past year, I was blown away by the responses of our teams. I presented the three plans for both youth and worship ministries and the reasoning behind each plan and believe it or not, they chose to grant the Reach For The Sky Plan! We are not a wealthy church, but when you take the time to be intentional and do your research, your team will want to back you. They may not have the resources to give you everything. You may have to wait or fundraise for a few things, but that is much better than losing money each year.
The Bible says to be ready in all seasons. Your teams, conversations, and meetings should be well thought out, intentional, and should answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how’s. Take the time to build relationships, understand their passions, and do your best to make decisions together.
About the Author
David Pruitt is the youth and worship pastor at FUMC in Snyder, TX. David has been in student ministry for sixteen years. David and his wife, Kelcie have been married for five years and have one two year old son, Noah Grey. David also has a graphic design business, where he designs logos, print media, and… Read More