Six Ways to Wrap Up Your Year
No matter the year, there are six things I always recommend to youth leaders as the calendar year ends:
1. Review your youth ministry budget (if you have one)
Look at what was spent, when, and on what. This review will help you be more accurate for next year’s expenses. Make sure you’re using money on what is really valuable in your ministry. Plus, if you have money that needs to be spent before the end of the year, you could put down deposits on next year’s activities or continuing education for yourself!
2. Thank your ministry team
Gifts are appropriate this time of year, even if they are as simple as a phone call or a handwritten note to say, “Thanks for all you do for our youth ministry!” Include volunteers, student leaders, staff, church members, perhaps even community members or partner organizations as you recognize others for helping youth ministry at your church come to life.
3. Reflect on your own discipleship
Often, we pay more attention to what the students in our care learn or how they grow in faith during their time in our ministry. The end of the year can be an excellent time for you to look within and reflect upon your own spiritual growth. After all, being in ministry changes us as disciples. How have you grown over the last twelve months? How has your faith been challenged? What spiritual practices have made an impact on you? What are your best and worst memories from this year in ministry? What might be a new spiritual practice to adopt for 2021?
4. Enjoy the season
I know, easier said than done – but carve out some spiritual care time for yourself and marvel at little miracles while we celebrate the coming of the Christ-child. If you’re feeling busy, burdened, overwhelmed – remember you got into ministry for a reason. Find times to be inspired by innocence; and look with children’s eyes at this wonderous season. When you are in worship, really worship. Find time to take an afternoon or other time off.
5. Declutter/clean up a neglected space
Maybe your youth have a tradition of putting up Christmas decorations everywhere. Maybe you’ve got that closet full of ministry supplies and décor that has gotten out of control over the year. Or maybe you’ve just got a space that gets used all the time and just gets beat up. Pull together a small group or make a request to the trustees at your church for a partial day of decluttering and cleaning. You could identify the project and ask the trustees to schedule it as part of the next work day; or see if any youth or families are willing to take it on.
6. Make a ministry wish list/dream of what is to come
This one is particularly seasonally appropriate. After all, Christmas is the beginning of Jesus’ human story, not the ending. He was born into a time of people looking ahead and daring to hope for the Messiah. Look ahead into your next year and write down just one or two things that you really want to do in ministry next year or wish could happen for your youth, their families, and your community. Keep that note to yourself visible, share that wish list with other ministry leaders, and get yourself mentally ready to take action and make those wishes and dream come true once the new year begins! Pray while you work to make those things into reality.