A while back we talked up the need to set up some goals in our ministry. I was thinking about how many of us have a job description that actually reflects what are jobs are about?
Chances are our job description was made up of a group of people who volunteer in the ministry and are key leaders of the church.. or maybe it was just a few people who have no idea. Perhaps you have even sat in on an annual job performance review where one person was hashing out your performance according to a job description, when another person in the review session says “Yes, but be just copied all that from a few different sources.” It happened to me, and I was not that surprised by it.
The Youth Ministry Job Description is A Funny Document
If you have just started your job or have been at it for a dozen years it makes good sense to revisit what your employers expectations are. If you are in the Methodist Church (like I am) then you have an itinerancy of pastors that change periodically and with that come THEIR expectations of your job. Not to mention the even more fluid personnel of the church committees. So what is a youth minister supposed do?
Identify for yourself what actually is your job and what is not your job.
- Write everything down on a paper what you do. Do you clean bathrooms. Babysit. Drive the elderly group on field trips. Spend Saturdays at the community ball fields. Write it all down
- Pull our a white board or a larger piece of paper (this is important enough that it warrants doing on a bigger scale). Use a marker or something bigger than just a pen. If you want to be clean about this and feel like you are someone that re-arranges thoughts often then write out your ‘jobs’ on sticky notes.
- Draw an X / Y axis. Put in the four quadrants Church Love | Youth Min Love and then under put Church Dislike | Youth Min Dislike.
- From there place all your ‘jobs’ on the board in relativity to what is actually youth ministry and church ministry, what items you love and dislike. Example, driving the elderly group on a monthly field trip is not part of your youth ministry job, but you love to do it, so it would go somewhere in that top left quadrant. If you did not like doing that but you had to drive then it goes in the dislike.
- Once you have everything on your board then go about assessing which things are the most important and you have to do. Some of your dislike items probably are part of your ‘have to do’, but be really honest about whether you ‘have to do them’ or you are not proactive enough to delegate them to someone who would love to do it. Note all the church related items and put them on your personal list of things you are now choosing to do for the church. The church does not pay you for them. They are not part of your job.
- Outline out from this list some measurable elements to your job description. As well, outline out the things you have been caught up doing that are not part of your job.
So Where Do We Go From Here?
In most cases, those folks in leadership are likely open to re-designing your job description. They, like my personal experience in an annual review, know that they sort of threw together a job description and are not entirely sure what comprises a youth ministry. This is where you come in to help save them and yourself. Bring your list of items. Let them know you reflected on the things you actually do. Do not bring a finished document, let them help you edit so they can have ownership of the job. Use your framework to give some language to help measure what the job can look like, be measurable, and help you feel successful about showing up day after day.
So What Is Measurable?
Your job description might have a, “encourage new youth into the youth group.” That might be better said, “Seek out ways to connect with visiting youth and facilitate introductions to others within the group.” That might not sound different, but I can say I
encourage all day long & anyone can say I am not. However, if my description is the later I can give some mention to personal letters, a phone call, and a coffee meet up with two or three other youth. It becomes an actionable item. If you want to put numbers to the actionable item that is a good thing, if you are able to follow through with them. Do not put “bring in 30 new youth a month”, that sets an expectation that is unsustainable. A nice growth number might be to say “grow the youth group by 5-10% each year”, so if you have a 20 person youth group, then adding 1-2 new person/s a year meets that goal. Measurable and actionable. Those are “actionable items” that I would hope we all have in our job descriptions.
It is important to know what is your job and what is not. I have seen more youth leaders than I can count that have found themselves on the end of an angry mob of parents (or just over involved church members) that feel their youth minister has not done their job. Be in a place where you know what you are supposed to and can defend your work.