Guest post by Allison Williams
As youth workers, many of us spend more time away from the office than we’re in it in the summer. (I’m gone from home so much, my dog actually goes to live with my parents for two months every summer!) We understand that being gone is a part of the job, but the world still spins at our church and in our home while we’re away. Here’s a few tips and tricks to make your absence less painful:
- Give your secretary/assistant a detailed calendar of the summer. They will be the one that is the liaison of information to you and will also be the one answering the, “Where is she this week?” question regularly. It’s critical that they stay in the loop. On this calendar, please list how and for what reasons they should contact you. In Africa on a missions trip for two weeks? There is probably extremely limited contact or reasons to contact. At your area’s church camp? Let her know you’re checking messages twice a day and give her the office number in case there is an emergency. Also make sure to communicate what days you are going off of the grid to sleep, catch up on laundry, go on a date, or take your kids to the zoo.
- Sit Down with your Senior Minister (or whoever is your Direct Report). In our office, we operate under a “no surprises” policy. So, before I leave for a stretch of time, I discuss my calendar with my senior minister. He generally has a full calendar, too. We use this time to coordinate who would cover funerals on certain weeks and who is responsible for greeting the guest speaker on the weekend. It is so much more freeing to have these discussions before anyone gets on a bus or a plane, than to have them over a broken cell feed at a do or die moment. Over communicate with your leader.
- Decide What Followup is Going to Look Like. As a lead youth worker, you may be on every trip your ministry has scheduled this summer. Those seventh graders that went to camp the last week of June should not have to wait until school starts back to be followed up with. Proactively create a plan! Maybe you can assign a couple of awesome volunteers from each trip to follow up with students. Perhaps you can buy (from DYM!) a resource that you can alter and have scheduled to mail out after kids get back from an event. Whatever you decide, it is dumb to schedule a full summer of ministry if you aren’t going to check in with those students as they come down the spiritual mountain.
Summer is grueling, beautiful, messy, and potentially life-changing. Follow these three steps to make sure that your focus can remain on Jesus and the flock He’s entrusted you with this summer.