Truth be told, September always feels more like the beginning of a New Year to me than January ever has. September was always my time for resolutions: to study more efficiently and effectively or to start a better exercise program. September is a new ministry year—new grade 9’s in youth group, new GEMS and Cadet themes, brand new 3-year-olds ready for Children’s Worship. I love it! January with its snow, cold and darkish afternoons doesn’t motivate me much.
So I hesitate to encourage anyone else to think about resolve right now, especially since we know that so many of 2017’s resolutions have already become history for most of us. But as we who are involved in ministry know, this is the time when we need to gear up for the second half of our season in spite of any Christmas goody weight or the strong desire to hibernate through yet another snowstorm. Before the second half of your ministry season starts feeling too weighty, resolve to create some healthy ministry supports for yourself and for the folks you are ministering alongside:
- Keep Learning. New ideas for ministry can serve as super fuel for winter doldrums. Growing Young by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder and Brad Griffin has 6 strategies that can help you infuse some collaborative energy into the second half of your ministry year. Do some strength training as you tear down silos and engage core ministry strengths from across your congregation.
- Keep your Soul in Healthy Shape. Take time for a Soul Care retreat or spend some time taking a personal inventory using tools from The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero to unpack any baggage that might weighing you down after the holidays.
- Keep Focused. The tyranny of holiday event planning can often leave us sapped. Take a moment to re-engage with your core values and ministry goals to make sure you are still on track. Feeling like you have lost your focus? Think about going through a Compass 21 process to look at your overall youth ministry.
- Don’t go it alone. One method I have found to maintain my resolve is to be a part of a peer mentoring group filled with like minded people. I meet with 6 other youth ministry folks once a month. We share what is happening in both our personal lives and in our ministries over Chinese buffet. We are also going through a book together to help each other keep current. I am inspired and emboldened in my work after each time we meet. With video chat your group need not be in close proximity. Reach out to former colleagues or ministry friends and meet virtually. If you are feeling out in the hinterlands, let me know and I can try and connect you to a youth champion in your area.
January seems like a tough month to start new things. Who wants to start running in -20 degree weather or who can imagine adding one more thing to a full schedule? I believe that any one of these resolutions can re-ignite your ministry energy and NOW is the time to do it before you are so tired all you can think of is summer break. NOW is the time to start dreaming about September while exploring new strategies for supporting you so that you finish this ministry season well and not so depleted that you don’t even want to think about the next season.
Let’s talk! For more information on how to engage in any of these ministry supports or to connect with a peer mentoring group, leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org