If you are in ministry, you are serving in one of these capacities:
Regardless of which of these you are, you likely don’t have someone holding your hand and keeping you accountable to a schedule. So how do you decide what is the best use of your time in your role?
No matter how much time we pour into our ministry, the time we have on this earth is given to us by God and we should steward it well.
The man who invited me into both my first role as a worship leader and my first full-time role into ministry shared with me a lot about this subject of time management. There’s a diagram he shared with me that’s a part of the Google Toolkit we are sharing with you later on that really helped me get a tangible grasp on the big picture of time management.
1. INVEST IN PLANNING
This time investment has shown to have the greatest return for me.
I spend a few minutes at the beginning of each day to look at my schedule for that day. Afterwards, I take care of any emergency emails or small daily tasks (like updating my hours, cleaning my office, etc.)
On my first day of the work week, I’ll spend more like 20-30 minutes planning my entire week. If I know that I’m scheduling or have a big project to do, I’ll make sure to put that in my calendar.
Each year, I encourage you to spend a day with your team looking at the entire year. Consider school events, big church events, and community events. Take note of when you’ll have to start planning for these events, and put a date on your calendar as a reminder to start planning for these things. Easter and Christmas seem to creep up on people every year - but they happen each year at the same time.
If you struggle with taking care of your responsibilities or easily let other less important projects take over, consider sharing your calendar with your boss, co-worker, or spouse to keep you accountable to your schedule.
CALENDARING TIP: Figure out how long tasks actually take you. When you need to make room for something else, don't just shorten another task to make room for other things - you'll need that entire hour or whatever it is.
2. INVEST IN YOURSELF
This one is difficult. You don’t want to come across as selfish, and if you’re in ministry you probably have a heart for serving - this is great, but it’s hard to invest in yourself because you probably want to spend all your time serving others.
Investing in yourself will result in being able to serve others better.
The better you know how to play your instrument, use ProPresenter, or understand scripture, the better you’ll be able to serve others with these new or sharpened skills.
Here are few quotes from ministry leaders that have poured into me have been great reminders;
“Leaders are readers”
“Leaders learn about themselves”
“Growth comes from self-awareness”
Growing yourself will take up time in your schedule, but is certainly worth it. Just a few examples of ways to invest in yourself are;
Joining worship leader facebook groups
Taking another worship leader in your area out for coffee/lunch
3. INVEST IN VOLUNTEERS
The church is a volunteer run organization. If this isn’t the case at your church, you probably want to look into that.
Volunteers need to be well-resourced, well-informed, feel important, and have fun.
You will not be on this earth or in your role forever; one of your goals should be to help the next person in your role be successful. This means investing in potential leaders, and giving responsibility to those who have shown an interest and the ability to do so successfully.
Create and sustain relationships with your volunteers. You don’t have to be their best friend, but you do need to be worthy of their trust and be someone they can count on, and they will want to be someone you can count on.
If you’re an introvert, you aren’t cut from these responsibilities - but when you need your alone time, you can still invest in volunteers by resourcing them well; make sure your song arrangements are what you’d like them to be, songs are transposed to the key you’ll be playing in so they can play along, and provide playthrough videos for specific or difficult parts.
4. STANDARD FILE CREATION
This takes a lot of prep work, but week to week will be a big time-saver. Here are just a few examples of things that can fall under this category;
Whatever it is, if you have a system down and you can quickly duplicate or automate your work each week you will have much more time each week.
You don’t have to be a master of all these things - there are so many resources available with the internet. Here are a few resources I’ve found helpful;
Churchfront Ableton toolkit
That Worship Sound Worship Essential mainstage package
Alex Strabala’s Helix presets
I have tweaked all of these to fit my needs, but having 90% of the work done by people who put endless hours into their products and know their craft is definitely a time-saver.
Another benefit to this is that when your system is nearly automatable and well documented, it can easily be handed to a responsible volunteer.
5. SAYING NO
One of the obvious but profound things I’ve been taught is this:
“saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else”
MIND BLOWN - You mean we don’t have endless amounts of time? I somehow thought that the more I said yes to, the better of a job I was doing by getting “a lot done”. But I let urgent things become the most important things, and therefore wasn’t making traction on my goals, or accomplishing my mission.
Another thing I’ve struggled with is being able to say “this doesn’t have to be perfect”.
If you are spending hours tweaking a backtrack, keyboard sound, or graphic while musicians or tech people are struggling with things, then you need to take a step back and prioritize.
6. GOOD EQUIPMENT
I once thought that I could save money by dealing with free or cheaper products. Here’s an example;
I was using a PDF chart viewer on my iPad. I still had to print charts for everyone else on the team, and every time I made a change to the chart I had to update OnSong and update the printed charts. When I switched to PCO Music Stand, it was a monetary investment - but at $2.50 a week, it’s a bigger return on the investment (if you’re on staff and make more than $2.50/hr)
If a soundboard, lighting board, computer, etc is constantly needing repair, then it is both costing money and time. This is another time to step back and think if the repair time is worth the money being saved. We are often put in position to steward God’s money. This is a big responsibility, not to be taken lightly - and while there are definitely products that are too luxurious for our needs, there are also insufficient products that money shouldn’t be spent on in the first place.
I hope these tips help you save time and increase your ministry effectiveness. Because I care about you, your time, and your ministry, I’ve put together this Organization Toolkit available through Churchfront. It includes;
hours tracking sheet
preaching calendar sheet
song planning sheet