This is a series of Youth Ministry Hacks to help youth workers get more out of their day. Want quick, practical tips to help you strengthen your ministry? This is the place! Here is today’s youth ministry hack:

Write ONE really great college/scholarship recommendation
I’ve written literally hundreds of college recommendations in 20+ years of youth ministry. I’ve done equal or greater number of scholarship letters, in many cases several for the same student for different ones! I got to the point where it needed a hack – so here’s what I came up with:

Spend a TON of time drafting 1 or 2 recommendation letters. Really make it great, but craft it with a couple things in mind: 1) mention the name of the student in only one place and 2) instead of listing accomplishments and achievements in the body of the letter, save them for a bulleted list at the end. Here’s why: you just created a magical template for you to use for the next decade of doing ministry with teenagers. When someone asks for a letter, you can simply swap out the name and the achievements with 90% of the heave lifting done. You’re welcome for this simple but time-saving hack.

Immediately some of you cringed. I get it. But I’m not saying don’t do a good job. I’m not saying don’t be detailed. I’m not saying that you should skip steps and do less than a robot could do. What I am saying is make the objective part of the letter something you can template and spend extra time on the subjective part. In fact, with the time you saved from writing it all from scratch, bring the student in for an “interview” and trip down memory lane and rehash relationally some of the great times having them as part of your youth ministry. That’s time well spent, as opposed to you staring mindlessly at a cursor in Microsoft Word.


NOTE: You can grab some ready-made letters to get started here!