How do you feel about the idea of setting and meeting goals? These goals can be personal, professional, or even casual. I love setting goals because they often give me something to strive towards. If you put me in a lake and told me to row, I’d feel lost and bored within moments. Tell me to get to the opposite shore, and the game gets more interesting.
The Christmas season can often feel like that metaphorical lake I mentioned if we don’t walk into this season with an intentional spirit. It’s an easy task to get overwhelmed with the number of Christmas parties you attend, or perhaps you find yourself wandering the internet because you don’t have to prepare a sermon this week.
It seems like when our schedule gets a bit lighter during the Christmas season; we can often get less done. We want to spend a few moments today talking about how you can head into this Christmas season with an intentional spirit to use this month as a youth ministry reboot.
We believe there are four things you can do to give your ministry that extra energy when 2020 rolls around!
Make Use of No Meetings
I've never met someone who told me that going to meetings all day made them feel good about doing their job. Most people I talk to who are frustrated with their jobs are often those who get stuck in meetings all day. Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You show up to work and have a staff meeting. After the meeting, the worship pastor asks you if he/she can chat for a brief moment. This moment turns into an hour, and it's 11:15. Lunchtime is almost here, so you can't start something too big because you're meeting a parent for lunch. The parent doesn't want to talk about one little thing but reveals that their student has been incredibly unhappy in small groups. You leave the hour and a half lunch meeting, only to call the small group leader for an hour phone call explaining how the small group is going. Now it's two o'clock, and you are opening your computer for the first time today. You tackle the mound of emails, and as you look up, ready to start doing your job, someone walks into your office to ask you a question. This question turns into a side rant about how football went this past weekend. You look down at your watch, and it's 4:15.
I wish I could tell you that it was a fake story, but I've seen that story happen to me and others multiple times. We get to the end of our day having never done our job because we were in pop-up and planned meetings all day.
We live in a culture of death by meetings, but this is a rare season. Everyone is out of town. You’ll have some extra time on your hands outside of the normal flow of meetings, how are you going to use the time? Perhaps you use the do not disturb the function of your phone, and close your office door for a little bit each day to crack down on some details for your upcoming disciple now. I'm an extreme extrovert, so I get the desire to have people around. Sometimes though, we have to make the best use of our time by ignoring people for a little bit. One pro-tip I learned from a fellow extrovert was my people timer. Set the alarm on your phone for 10 minutes and chat with people for 10 minutes. Get your recharge and energy, then head back and get working when the timer goes off.
Some meetings matter, so please don't hear me saying cancel all meetings. If we are honest, though, we all have meetings which could be erased from our schedules, which would probably enrich our productivity.
Side question, are there meetings that don't need to go BACK on the schedule?
Breathe During Parties
So meetings affect your day to day, but there are these other wonderous events in the Christmas season called Christmas parties. I’ve already stated that my extroverted self gets excited for all of the people. I love Christmas parties and could go to them every night, but there’s another side to them. I struggle to put on a Christmas party and help execute it. The energy of attending versus putting on a Christmas party are two distinctly different feelings.
If you are the youth leader reading this, odds are you will likely help put on at least one Christmas party this year. I’ve heard of some youth pastors who will easily go to ten different parties. If you find yourself at another party, I challenge you to sit back and attend.
Hear this motto: You are allowed to go to a party and enjoy yourself without focusing on the work which needs to be done.
You can show up to the Christmas party and be Mary, not Martha, this season. For my introverts in the room, I didn't forget about you either. Let me put it this way, if you are attending a Christmas party, don't feel like you always have to put on your best meet people self. You have permission to sit back and talk with one person or no people this Christmas season. Your presence will speak volumes to the people in attendance; they don't need more from you at every party.
Why do we emphasize this aspect of the Christmas season? Because taking a breather amidst the fun of the parties will provide extra energy to go crush work. We know how it feels to go to the Christmas party on Tuesday night while still showing up for work the next day. Do what you can to enjoy a few of your Christmas parties this season, and watch what it does for your productivity in the office.
Make Some Small Touches
When’s the last time you connected with your leaders on a personal level? Sending some texts or phone calls to your leaders will go a long way in the holiday season. Email gets overused throughout the rest of the year, so why not take a different approach?
People are more sentimental during this time of year, and we're not challenging you to take advantage of them at this moment. We are saying your communications to your leaders will mean more in the holidays. This can be questions asking how they are doing, what are their plans for the holidays, and what have they enjoyed most about 2019?
Another thing to pay close attention to is those in your ministry who have lost someone during the holidays or those experiencing the holidays for the first time without someone. My grandfather passed away near Thanksgiving a few years ago, and it's still a tough holiday for my mom. I know there are stories like that in your ministry, and it would show an incredible amount of care to your people if you reached out during this time.
Are you looking to go the extra mile? Write a card! Christmas cards are a lost art, and chances are you have a label maker at the church to save time on addressing envelopes.
Remind Yourself of the Christmas Story
There is a reason we all have a special season. Does it ever feel cliché when you use the phrase, Jesus is the Reason for the Season? I'm not trying to guilt-trip you here, because if I'm transparent, I've been there too. It's almost blasphemous to say, but we can often get so comfortable with Jesus and Christmas we forget the importance of these two things.
You’ve probably written or preached the Christmas story dozens of times. Find an afternoon or day to sit and study the Christmas story one more time. If Christ doesn’t come to earth, we don’t get to do ministry. I'm not asking you to reinvent the Christmas story, but try and approach it with fresh eyes this year. The Christmas story is fantastic! God put on flesh. You can stop the Christmas readthrough right there because this fact alone is mind-blowing! This is just the beginning of the story, and there are more nuggets to find as you keep reading.
Why is it important to remind yourself of the Christmas story? Because we can never assume everyone who hears your teaching has listened to the story before. Two major seasons empower our ministry, and they happen to be the two significant seasons where people come to church. Easter and Christmas bring in the lost at least twice a year. What if you only get to teach those individuals then? Would you want to give them a story that seems overdone, or would you want to bring them into one of the greatest miracles this world has ever witnessed?
Christmas matters. What you do matters. We want you to be able to use this season as a time to recharge, but also to engage. Don’t sit back and let this month fly by, but lean into what God is doing during this time. Youth leaders wear many hats, and for this season, they might be an elf or Santa hats. Here at YM360, we want to offer high-quality resources and life-changing events which allow youth leaders to lead students in growing a meaningful relationship with Jesus.
What’s your favorite gift you have ever given/received at a White Elephant or Dirty Santa gift exchange? Comment below, and we’ll pick our favorite and send the winner a Christmas gift!