Five Emails You’re Forgetting to Send

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Your schedule is packed. Your inbox is full. You can’t keep up with the Facebook messages. The busyness has shrouded your view and you are still met with the complaints:

“It would have been nice to know about this sooner.”
“What are the details about that retreat?”
“Didn’t you know that the seniors’ button club was using the auditorium this week?”

You can spend time blaming others for their lack of inquisitiveness or their inability to find the right answers… or you can take responsibility and send five regular emails this week to prove you are the premier communicator in your church.

Pre-Program Weekly Leader Email
This email is where you cast vision for what is coming up in your program. A weekly email keeps leaders in the loop and empowers them to prepare for the program. This should include: small group questions for their discussion, a program order for your night including game details and/or song choices, and anythings specific you want them promoting to students.

Post-Program Weekly Leader Email
This email is where you thank leaders and invite their feedback. You can use a Google Form to get the same feedback each week. You’ll also want to highlight and encourage any leaders that you saw doing great things at the program.

Weekly Parent Email
This email is similar to your pre-program leader email, except you’ll want to put the focus on what content you are covering at your program and how parents can take it further on the drive home or later that week. Also be sure to include any upcoming events that are out of the ordinary so that parents can plan their family calendars accordingly.

Bi-Monthly Boss Email
You should never be assuming that your boss knows what’s going on in your ministry. Take time consistently to update him/her with highlights, statistics, budget overviews, and ministry prayer requests/needs. The more you communicate the more your boss can be in your corner and support you.

Sowing Seeds Email
Keep yourself from getting desperate with the number of leaders you have by starting the recruiting process nice and early. Have a hit list and start to nudge people 6-9 months before you hope to onboard them. The advance planning will help you get the high capacity leaders that are drawn to organized ministries.

PRO TIP: Batch write these emails all at once and then schedule them to go out at the appropriate times throughout the week (use a program like Boomerang, Right Inbox, or Streak).

7 Productivity Apps for Youth Workers

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I’m a tools junkie. I love when new apps come available that might help me do my job more efficiently. I’ve compiled my favourites–take a look and see if you might benefit from these tools too! If you have any other suggestions, drop them in the comments.

Wunderlist: There’s an enormous amount of options when it comes to task or project management. Wunderlist is a great place to start, as it gives you scalable options (attaching files, sharing lists) while keeping things simple.

How I Use It: I have shared lists with anyone I’m doing a one-on-one with. Both of us can add items to the agenda. I also keep a grocery list shared with my wife.

Right InboxHave you ever emailed someone and then forgot to follow up with them when they didn’t respond? Have you used your inbox as a to-do list to the point that it has gotten overwhelming? Have you ever thought of emailing someone, but it’s at a weird hour of the day and you’d rather send the email at a different time? You need Right Inbox (Boomerang or Gmelius are similar tools).

How I Use It: If I’m sending an email that I expect a response on, I add a reminder that will return the email to me if I don’t get a response (the time allotted for a response is customizeable). No more trying to remember who has gotten back to me already. I’ll also schedule regular emails that I want to send (program night details, followup for immediately after the retreat, etc.). This way I can plan to have a note go out at precisely the right time.

RemindRemind is the definitive texting platform that you need to be on. It’s free, it has an app, it has options for leaders, parents, and students. Our needs have expanded beyond Youth Ministry and so we’re now using textinchurch.com, but Remind is definitely the place to start.

How I Use It: Set up your ministry as a class and put opt-in instructions on social media, on screens during your program, and in emails to parents through the week. As people sign up you’ll have the ability to text them directly with info, last minute changes, and promotion.

You Need A BudgetAfter our honeymoon, my wife and I read a Dave Ramsey book and decided to start budgeting. A few years later we can’t imagine where we’d be without this critical tool keeping our sanity around finances. At the same time, I’ve now realized that I likely have mistakenly donated an enormous amount of money to my previous church because I had no idea where my money was going and if I didn’t have the receipt at the end of the month I wouldn’t claim the expense.

How I Use It: We use ynab.com, however since Dave Ramsey released his free budgeting software, if I were to start over today I’d probably check out everydollar.com. Here’s the key–every transaction must be accounted for and put into a budget category. This way you can guarantee that all those Starbucks visits are accounted for come expense report time.

Evernote/Scannable: Knowing that you took someone out to coffee for ministry purposes every other day last month doesn’t change the fact that you are staring into the eyes of an angry accountant, empty handed for the fourth month in a row. Be their hero, be responsible, and do yourself a favor by downloading Evernote and Scannable.

How I Use It: If it’s a ministry receipt, as soon as it’s in my hands I scan it into Scannable. I now have a copy to print at the end of the month.

Spotify: I loved TobyMac’s latest release, but after playing it on repeat for a few months, I realized it was making our program feel a little stale. That’s when I realized that instead of spending money on new music every month, I really needed to just bite the bullet and switch over to a streaming service.

How I Use It: I follow a couple playlists that have active users updating the music. No more overly repeated music.

Overcast: Podcasts are a great way to add value to mundane tasks that don’t take a lot of brain power (driving solo, yard work, exercise, etc). Overcast is the best podcast player for three simple reasons:

  1. Voice Boost — “Boost and normalize volume so every show is loud, clear, and at the same volume.”
  2. Smart Speed — Magically shortens natural silences in shows and ends up saving you hours over the long haul.
  3. Adjustable Speed — Increasing the speed of a show can help you cruise through lots of good content in a short period of time.

How I Use It: I subscribe to my favorite podcasts (The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast, unSeminary, Freakonomics Radio, Revisionist History), increase the speed until it’s at the fastest speed I can handle, and play them during my 40 minute commute.

Top Three Books to Read This Summer

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Summer is often a time we think we’ll get lots of learning and reading done, but if you’re like me, I sometimes don’t know where to start. Let me make a few suggestions. These recent books will stretch, challenge, and grow you in some fantastic ways.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 9.55.04 PMSmarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

Our roles as youth workers are quite eclectic. We plan big events. We train and motivate our teams. We try to become better leaders  ourselves. We answer emails. We make decisions. We set goals. We communicate, believing that it will lead to a change in the lives of our listeners.

When we get better and more productive everyone in our ministry wins–and ultimately more people are influenced with the message of Jesus. This new book is a great collection of productivity lessons around key topics such as motivation, managing others, focus, and innovation.

“Motivation is more like a skill, akin to reading or writing, that can be learned and honed.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 9.56.41 PMA New Kind of Leader by Reggie Joiner

Every wonder if you could take the passion of your best volunteers and copy/paste it into the rest of your team and church? This book will do just that for you. Get this one into the hands of everyone you meet and you’ll have a waiting list of new volunteers.

“What your church does for kids is more important than anything else your church does.”

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 10.00.21 PMMessy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach 

How you and your church engage the LGBT community is a critically important conversation that must be had. Messy Grace is the prerequisite reading for anyone about to have that conversation, no matter where they land on the issue.

“We should be pursuing relationships with members of the LGBT community the same way God pursues us.”