By Chris Parker

Just like priming the pump for my old rusty lawn mower before I get it started, you and I both have some things we could do to prime the pump of our ministry before the school year gets underway. When you don’t prime the pump you could be putting yourself and your ministry into deep weeds that could have been avoided.

WARNING: Now is the easiest time to fall into bad habits, make careless leadership decisions, and be totally side swiped by some amazing and not so amazing opportunities. What you do now at the beginning of a school year will dramatically impact the kind of year you have. Do these 7 things now to prime your ministry and you will be set up for a win!

  1. Calendar out your curriculum and teaching schedule. Spend a few hours with those that help your ministry operate, whether it be staff or volunteers. Get everyone in a room and say, “We will not leave this room until we have every Sunday covered until Christmas.” It may seem brutal, but you will thank me later. Having a game plan for the the next 4 months will save tons of time you would waste in the next few months “trying to figure out” what you will do next.
  2. Have a big camp/retreat this fall or winter? Start registration now. For my students we do a winter camp. Though it’s in January we opened registration this weekend! Why? Because I want as many students at camp as possible. This maximizes promotion time and allows families to plan both financially and ample time to put it on the family calendar. Upon first day of registration this year we had 180 kids/students pre-register…that’s 75% of numbers from last year. I’m not at all worried about getting enough people to camp. We will most likely be at or over camp capacity this year.  This also gives visiting students or new guests something to look forward to more than Sunday mornings. When they see everyone is doing it and they sign up…well, the chances of you retaining this visitor is high!
  3. Map out your budget according to your goals. This seems simple in theory, yet many opportunities will pull at your ministry wallet this year. If meeting your goals is the most important thing, then budget for them not against them. This year I’m really trying to grow the high school program, I will be spending a lot of my budget on this.
  4. Give away more leadership to those that have earned it. You can’t do it all, and don’t pretend you can. One of the best things you can do as a leader is figuring out what is on your plate that you could give away while at the same time empowering someone else. It doesn’t matter whether they are a staff member or a small group leader. Target those that are high-capacity “doers” and trust that they could do a better job than you!
  5. Develop a WIN calendar. Each week I give my small group leaders a win. Each week the win is different and revolves around connecting with students, engaging the parents, developing sticky community. These wins are small and tangible, if the small group leader follows through they know that they have won that week! For example: The win for this week is to put on the calendar an outing for your small group that isn’t on Sunday, communicate it to their parents.
  6. Meet the parents. This could be one of the most important ways to prime your ministry for success. If you have parents on board with what you are doing there is little you can’t accomplish. We just had a BBQ after church last week for all parents that attend and have children birth-College. Over 800 people showed up to eat food and hear the vision for our NextGen ministry this year. Most importantly though, each parent had the opportunity to meet the child’s small group leader that would be in that child’s life every Sunday this year. If you don’t do something like this, you need to figure out how to make it happen, it’s one of the most important things we do.
  7. Get Prime! This may sound silly but I can’t tell you how much of a time and money saver this is for my ministry. If I need game supplies, stage props, materials for camp, gifts for small group leaders, etc. this is the first place I stop. With an Amazon Prime membership I get almost everything in 2-free day shipping plus access to millions of songs with ad-free streaming. I’d argue Amazon Prime pays for itself in just the first few weeks you use it. It’s funny, almost every Wednesday I ask myself, “Is there anything I need for Sunday?” If so, it’s just as easy as jumping online, a few clicks and boom! Done. No trips to the local grocery store or dollar store, I’m done. This could be the most resourceful and responsible $99 you spend for your ministry.

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