I have a passion for automation—for setting up systems and processes that reduce human involvement and maximize ministry output.
For example, during my time in ministry, I kept an email folder called “Drafts.” Inside this folder were 25 different responses to common questions: questions about baptism, infant dedication, our summer programming, and so on. These email responses were pre-written and well thought-out; they waited in the wings to be sent to people who had the appropriate questions. That is automation: working on something once in such a way that it works hundreds of times for me in the future.
In ministry, if we don’t come to the table with some level of automation, we are going to be a small gear spinning so fast that it starts to smoke. That is a recipe for burnout. If you sit down and think through the elements of your ministry you can automate right now, you’ll begin to set up a process that literally pays you back hundreds of hours in the future.
So, where do you start? Think about something in your ministry that is repeated. It could be baptisms, Easter services, and so on. Creating a process that automates all, or many, of the details surrounding these events, as well as follow-up, is an intelligent and important step to take.
Every year, we have fall kickoff. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we are starting things every September. An intelligent team would sit down and figure out all the items necessary for fall kickoff, and spend time fine-tuning and crafting each one. After the team gets through that first year, we tweak it slightly, and then hand off some of the items to administrative assistants or even volunteers.
What does automation look like practically? Taking photographs of the fall festival display; labeling photos and boxes; having things stored and organized in an intuitive way, so that a volunteer who is hungry to serve can be handed a sheet of paper, directed to where the tubs are, and instructed on how to replicate what you have done in past years. Automating things means you put a little more time in on the front end, in order to see more payoff on the back end.
Think through what items are repeated weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually, and seek to make repeatable processes for them. Automate everything.
Josh Denhart is a children's ministry curriculum writer and children's ministry performer. Josh is a seasoned educator with BA in Chemistry Education, a MA in Effective Instruction, and earned National Board Certification in Young Adult and Adolescent Science. As a former High School chemistry teacher, Josh melded his love for Science and Christ, creating “The Amazing Chemistry Show”, a traveling gospel-centered stage show with fire, explosions and foam. Carrying this Ministry of Chemistry even further, Josh created “Science VBS”, an internationally celebrated Vacation Bible School curriculum.
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