Friday, May 20, 2016

I have an office and a desk! What?!

I remember my first youth ministry office, it had a desk, office chair, a book shelf and two chairs for people to sit in.  On the desk there was an intercom an old school radio shack -like intercom.  Keep in mind this is the early 90’s so I was stoked about the intercom.  The administrative assistant’s desk was just on the other side of the wall but we had an intercom.  I found that to be amusing.  I remember the first day in the office I sat at my desk all excited about my new adventure and intercom.  I pushed the talk button and said, “Joyce, I would like my coffee with cream and sugar.”  The reply came back over the intercom, “Andy, you can get your own coffee.”  All this done with the door open between our offices.

So here you are!  Your new office!!  What are you going to do?

Publish Office Hours - Make sure the folks in your church know when you can be reached at the office.  This doesn’t mean you won’t be at the office more than these scheduled hours but it can help people know when you are available to talk.  In my setting I have a daily dry erase board on my door.  On the board, each Sunday, I write the hours I’m planning to be in the office.
It’s also wise to encourage people to call first and  make sure you are there and available to talk.  You can do this through a parent email or monthly newsletter or even put your office hours on a google calendar linked to your parent page of your web site.  (no website?  build a simple informative one using Wix or another web site builder app like it)  I’ll be honest, in our setting,
I maybe get visitors who come to my office on purpose about 5 times a year.  Texting and cell phones have changed much of church office interaction with church members.

The Closed Door - If you are writing your message, working on curriculum, praying, reading and don’t want to be disturbed you could have a closed door policy.  When the door is closed I’m focusing on a ministry task and I need some uninterrupted time to work on it.  For me, outside noise in the office area is tremendously distracting when I’m trying to work on a message/lesson so I will shut my door.  Does this means that someone shouldn’t interrupt if there is a ministry emergency?  No.  But don’t interrupt if you need to know who is in charge of ordering the paper products.

Let Someone Know - Youth ministry pulls us out of the office often, we aren’t like bankers who sit in an office all day.  We will leave the office to meet a volunteer over coffee, go to a ball game after school, go home early because there is a youth event later that night.  I recommend you let someone at the office know where you are going and what you are doing.  Accountability can be a good thing.  If you are in a situation where the youth minister before you could never be found and no one ever knew where he was it is vital you tell someone.  You also should have clarified in the interview process what the church’s expectations for office hours are and made sure they jived with what you know youth ministry will involve.

Keep it Straight -  My office isn’t the best example.  I’m not a neat freak but I can easily straighten it up in a matter of minutes.  I also have a system to my desk which helps me in my productivity.  If you do have people come to your office and it looks like their teenager’s bedroom you aren’t going to make a good first impression.  Mail, read it and file or throw away.  Yellow legal pads are my friends.  I have 3 stacked on my desk right now in a tidy corner.  One has camp messages I’m working on, another has the notes I’m working on for our current series, the third has projects I’m working on.

Google Calendar -  or something similar.  I love it because I can share it if needed but the main reason I like it is because on the right hand side of the calendar is my to do list and I can plug in deadline dates.  This really changed my unorganized office life.  I used to hate administrative type stuff but over the past several years I’ve started to like it and now enjoy my “to do” list.  Stay organized.  We don’t instill confidence when we don’t know what is happening or miss an event etc.

Get Out! - we can’t accomplish student ministry by spending all 40 to 50 hours a week in our offices.  We have to get out.  Go to a ball game, meet students for coffee, have dinner with some parents.  Also get out to spark some creativity.  I occasionally will find an off campus place to read and study or to plan.  The change of scenery really helps my mind.

Enjoy your new office!!

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