- Prepare a message for Sunday.
- Send out the weekly parent email.
- Follow up with visitors from last week.
- Touch base with adult volunteers.
- Prepare another message for Wednesday.
- Design graphics for an upcoming series.
- Check on little Johnny after having his wisdom teeth removed.
- Plan an outreach event for next month.
- Schedule social media posts.
- Follow up with Susie, who has missed the last couple of weeks.
- Prepare for an afternoon counseling session.
- Figure out why the audio/video wasn’t working properly last night.
- Clean up the youth room.
- Prepare a brief devotional for the Thursday morning FCA meeting.
- Be seen at the 7th grade boys basketball game.
- Make sure you’re ready for the weekly staff meeting.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget to:
- Have a personal devotional time.
- Be a loving and present spouse.
- Be an engaged and involved parent.
- Take care of all the other responsibilities you have that don’t fit neatly inside your “student pastor” job description (full-time student pastor, part-time worship leader, anyone?).
Student ministry is a big job. It’s certainly a busy job. With all the tasks and responsibilities required of a student pastor, productivity seems like some kind of foreign concept that exists in some sort of unattainable ethereal realm. And if you’re anything like me, you often struggle to handle all of your responsibilities, at least as well as you’d like to. (Bless those of you saints that are part-time or lay youth leaders. There is a special place in heaven for you.)
With that said, I want to suggest to you some tools I’ve discovered that might help 2017 be your most productive year of ministry yet.
Todoist is what productivity gurus call a “GTD” (“getting things done”) app. Todoist allows you to form “to do” lists that sync across all of your devices. You can add deadlines, schedule tasks to be completed on a certain day, create multiple lists under different categories, and more. I’ve used multiple GTD apps over the last few years (i.e., Things, Wunderlist) but have settled on Todoist. Regardless of which app or program you use, the power of a “to do” list cannot be overstated when it comes to productivity—even if you go old school with pen and paper!
I first discovered Evernote about 5 years ago and I have never looked back. Evernote is an information management system—a digital file cabinet, if you will—that allows you to store information worth saving, organize it quickly, and retrieve it easily across all of your devices. I use Evernote to save sermon illustrations, important receipts, gift ideas, recipes, book notes, and much, much more. I tell people often that, if I were to lose my Evernote files, I would break out the sackcloth and ashes and go into a state of mourning. I’m only partially kidding.
Whether you use a daily planner or the calendar app on your phone, take advantage of the power of a calendar! I’m a big fan of the digital calendar. First of all, you can set alerts to remind you of important dates and upcoming deadlines. Secondly, calendar sharing is a game changer. Our entire church staff shares a calendar that we can access from our phones or computers to see upcoming events and important dates. My wife and I also share a family calendar so that we’re always aware of what the other has going on or has committed to in the future.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of digital when it comes to productivity—but there’s still a special place in my heart for my journal. I have a phone, an iPad, a laptop and a desktop computer—but I still rarely leave home without my journal. I use it to outline messages, write down important things that come to mind, take notes during meetings, map out ideas and more. (And if it’s really important, I’ll snap a picture of it and save it to Evernote. Boom.)
I’m far from being a productivity expert. More often than not I still go home at the end of the day with items left on my Todoist list. But these tools have gone a long way towards increasing my overall productivity. My hope is that some of these tools might also help you make 2017 your most productive year in ministry yet.
Now excuse me while I go mark “write blog post for Youth Specialties” off of my “to do” list.
Jonas Larkin is the middle school student pastor at Oak Hill Baptist Church in Somerset, KY. He enjoys his family, good books, coffee in the morning, and all things Kentucky Wildcats. You can find him online at JONASLARKIN.COM or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @JONASLARKIN.