Primary Skill Function

traffic go.jpgGot to chatting yesterday about all the additional gumpf that becomes part of being a church youth worker, other than youth working. I guess in an ideal world (which I know does not exist outside of TV commercials and Disney Films) we’d be free to youth work, i.e bash on with the business of relationship building, informally educating, group working, ministering, listening, creating opportunities to grow etc etc. Instead there is a massive amount of admin’ and all the other duties that could be summed up by, “everything else the vicar thinks is a good idea!” It was a good conversation and remarkably gripe-free. I was reflecting on the fact that I used to run an entire ‘Yoof’ building which was a GREAT privilige but involved a HUGE investment of time.
So, I got to thinking about dividing jobs into their primary skill function and secondary support work! Now I know that no job is complete without the paperwork (*avoids doing obvious toilet joke here) but even so it’s an interesting piece of pseudo-analysis. So, for example a Lorry Driver spends the majority of the time using their primary skill traffic stop.jpg function i.e driving, whilst a Sales Rep (and I speak from experience here) spends the majority of their time on their secondary support work (Driving to and from customers and filling in all the paperwork) and relatively little actual time using their primary Sales skills.
So how does youthwork sit on this continuum*** from Lorry driver to Sales rep? What percentage of your job is PSF (ooh, note very professional utilisation of a TLA**) and what percentage is SSW? Or to put it more simply, what percentage of your working week is actual contact time with young people? And what other elements of your job do you see as Primary and which areas do you see as secondary? Discuss ….
Credit to Sian de la Nix and Yvonne von Matz for inspiring this post by beginning this (eclair fuelled) debate yesterday 🙂

* Ok I did the toilet joke by pretending to avoid it 🙂
** TLA = Three letter acronym

*** Isn’t the word ‘continuum’ great!

2 Replies to “Primary Skill Function”

  1. I think this is a really interesting discussion point. Often we can see our primary skill function as stuff we do with young people but if the church work is to reach more than a few young people it seems like much of the primary skill function should be in resourcing, encouraging and developing leaders – something very different. That seems to be taking more and more of my time – helping to plan and develop sessions that hopefully others can run and I do some stuff in, rather than face-to-face contact.

  2. Someone (who perhaps should have known better from the leadership of the church where I work) once asked me whether I was finding enough to occupy myself with seeing as I only had on that particular week a small group, an open youth group and a Sunday morning session or two to do. I graciously (outwardly rather than inwardly where I was considering whether it would be wrong to bop her on the nose) said that there was an awful lot else going on in church life and youth ministry life that I was involved with. But at that stage I got to thinking that there are people who believe that my role is solely to do with the face to face contact that I have with young people and the preparation of materials connected with that time.
    I agree that a lot of our time should be in resourcing, encouraging and developing leaders and the ministry as a whole. In doing that we need to have a sense of what we’re resourcing them for and therefore a vision/strategy/plan call it what you will, and some serious plans as to how to make that a reality. For if we want the kingdom of God to grow, for the ministry that we’re involved with to flourish then inevitably that will mean we’re physically unable to “do” it all in which case we need to have others around us who are confident in, captured by a shared vision and equipped with the appropriate skills and gifting to be able to carry it with us and for us to be confident in that.
    Making that a reality is the hard part when your minister/pastor/vicar pops in and says ‘could you just …’

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