This is in response to a former article I wrote on DIY Student Ministry. This is the final topic I’m covering in this series. After writing on numerous topics where it is much better to recruit, delegate, and empower others to come alongside you and do student ministry, I’m living in the middle of this one currently. This is a pioneer year for mission experiences with our students, we have three trips running this month – one middle school, and two high school trips. With over 80 students involved on trips with another 60 students back in Austin with regular programming, I could never do this alone.
When you delegate, you empower. When you empower, you give ownership. When you give ownership, someone will likely do it better than you and if they don’t, at least they will be invested in something that they are contributing to. When you empower a leader or volunteer with a task you are not just getting a task finished you are getting someone bought into the larger picture of what leadership is by helping them understand the smaller nuts and bolts of what holds this whole thing together we call student ministry.
With our experiences combined, my wife and I have collectively participated on well over 50 different short-term missions, along with leading a handful ourselves. Each experience whether easy, difficult, domestic or international has proven invaluable in how we design a trip for students. Everything from support raising, to travel/lodging details, and simple details that could be lost such as sensitivity to food allergies. A huge blessing for us was that Gateway saw my wife’s experience and needed a part-time Global Director – she helps organize and empower trip leaders during this season. While this is a huge blessing for me and by me I mean student ministry…it comes with its hurdles. When you “know” how you want an event or trip to run sometimes it can be easier to just do it rather than explain your thoughts and bring others into the process.
This has been my challenge since coming on staff at a new church but I’m glad to see this weakness now and eager to explain more and give away more in the upcoming months. It was made very clear in my first few months here that I had an issue with delegating projects or tasks… because I felt things needed to be done in a particular way and I had little time to explain these philosophies or processes while doing them myself. While these moments could have their appropriate places – it won’t be very often that you are doing something that someone else couldn’t do.
For big event planning you must realize that there are many details to be considered. If you don’t think so, you probably shouldn’t be the project planner/manager. Just a snapshot of my recent project: rental vans, charter buses, lodging, showers, week-long schedule with every hour accounted for, expenses, reimbursements, trip leaders, adult leaders, kids club curriculum, kids club games, kids club music, kids club crafts, emergency response number, and the list goes on and on.
If you as the student pastor or project planner get sucked into any of these details and doing them yourself, the rest of the project could easily unravel and unfold in such a way that you wouldn’t have wished for. When it comes to project planning and pulling off the big event you should have one role and one role only…this actually sums up the entire DIY series. YOUR ROLE IS NOT – JUST DO IT, but rather JUST DELEGATE IT. Be sure to follow up with encouragement and constructive criticism, just because you delegate it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.
This post goes out to all my volunteers and part-time staff that keep student ministry operating and firing on all cylinders. You are rockstars in my book and do so much more than most would ever credit you. Delegating to you is not a way for me to “get out of it”, delegating and empowering you all actually allows me to get more into it, helping me keep my eyes on the big picture. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!