Well, wasn’t that Easter Egg Hunt that your youth sponsored for the children’s ministry just a blast! I hope you had plenty of “Extra Eggs for Empty Baskets.”
I heard of a neighborhood that had an Easter Egg Hunt that was a lot of fun, too – kids running everywhere, prize-filled plastic eggs hidden in all sorts of auspicious and inauspicious places, even older “children” hunting high and low, shouts of glee upon the discovery of hidden egg treasures, the fun of “cascarones” (confetti-filled egg shells that children crack on each others’ heads). What a fun way to celebrate Easter and to highlight this very special day and season …
… and then it was over …
… and there were candy wrappers and confetti and brightly colored eggshells everywhere. And the morning dew combined with egg dyes to stain stone and concrete. Made me think of Mike Yaconelli’s infamous episode of staining the “Jones Memorial Carpet” in the church ladies’ parlor.But that is the way that good ministry often is – many times it can leave a mess. The cost of cleaning up is the price we pay for having the opportunity to do ministry in the first place. Click To Tweet
The end of the program year is a good time for some important cleanup.
Ten Places to Pay Attention at the End of the Year
Evaluate – It’s time to climb up in the balcony for a bird’s eye view of what took place in the last year – all seen through the lens of your stated mission. You should ask questions like, “Did this event really reflect what we were hoping would happen in the lives of our youth?” or “Did Sunday night youth group reflect the values that we had in mind?” You’ll be tempted to look forward, but don’t look ahead until you’ve looked back to evaluate.
Review Policies and Game Plans – Many of these won’t change much, but some will out of necessity, e.g. your communication plan will likely change to reflect new modes of youth communication.
Assess Yourself – What are some of the gaps in your knowledge base or professional skills that need some attention? You should be able to address some of those needs through continuing education plans in the coming year.
Evaluate Your Team of Staff and Volunteers – They might need some spiffing up too in the way of training or simply in team building activity.
Financial Accountability – Take a look at how your ministry performed on the bottom line and how accountable you were to the budget under which you were operating. Too many youth ministries make a fiscal mess that calls for a “cleanup on Aisle 7.”
Tighten Up the Rolls – The end of the year gives you a chance to clean up the youth directory and to make contact with MIA youth before they get away for the summer or, worse yet, for good.
Collect Major Event Notebooks – If you’ve done a good job of providing planning information for major event coordinators, it’s time to make sure that all that good information (with new notes included) gets back to the youth office. You can then prepare that valuable information for next year’s coordinator.
Say “Thank You” – Too often we roll right through the year and make a mess of saying, “Thank you.” The end of the program year presents a good opportunity to stop, gather your folks, and give your volunteers a big bear hug by honoring them with a dinner or worship recognition moment.
Redeem relationships – Sometimes the mess is our own, and we’ve left a broken relationship in the wake of a busy year. It’s time to do what you can to bring healing where there is brokenness and to offer a heartfelt “I’m sorry.”
THEN it’s time to look ahead …
When the Easter Egg Hunt, or whatever it is, has absolutely worn you out,cleaning up is just about the last thing that you want to do. But it’s part of the price we pay, a price that we pay willingly, because paying the price just might give us the chance to do it all again. Click To Tweet
If you want to explore more about what to do when you’ve “stained the Jones Memorial Carpet,” email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to spend some time helping you to clean up the mess, because I want you to have another opportunity to bless the lives of young people.