The 2013 LCMS Youth Gathering, Live Love(d)¸ was my first experience serving as the Gathering Media Director. I joined the LCMS Youth Ministry staff 18 months before the Gathering and transitioned to the position in a baptism-by-fire manner The whole process from planning and prepping to on-site production to post-event recap was one big, learning experience.
As Media Director, I oversaw the media and publication efforts before, during and after the event from web content and social media campaigns to posters, mailings and swag to maintaining a budget and managing a thirty-five person team of volunteers and contract workers. I’m thankful for the wise and patient staff and planners who worked with me and coached me along the way.
As we gear up for the 2016 LCMS Youth Gathering, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the organizational and leadership lessons I learned during my first Gathering planning experience. Here are seven leadership lessons I have taken with me into this round of Gathering planning.
- Plan early and stick with the plan. Things take time. It’s just the reality of working within an organization. It takes time to paint a vision, rally a team, approve projects and put that vision into motion. Anticipate the needs and work ahead as best as you can. Once you have a plan, stick with it. Keep yourself and teammates accountable for sticking to agreed upon goals and deadlines. Favorite organizational tool: Basecamp
- I’m not sure it’s possible to over-communicate, especially when working primarily through emails or video chats with teammates in different geographical locations who have their own day jobs. Repeat the game plan, deadlines, and details over and over again to better ensure everyone is on the same page. Communicate goals and deadlines early and often. Favorite option for conference calls: Google HangOut
- Ask clarifying questions before making assumptions. It can be easy to think that time is saved by asking one less question and face is saved by not bugging the person in charge. However, spending 1 minute now to clarify a question could save you 100 minutes later spent towards fixing the unaddressed problem. Be certain of the plan; clarify the details. Your questions not only benefit your understanding but the whole team’s. Easy way to clarify: Reflect the statement or idea heard and asked if you’re getting that right.
- Recognize the immense amount of talent and experience of those surrounding you. Tap into that. Trust and empower those in their areas of expertise as you continue to communicate goals and deadlines.
- Look for ways to encourage and spur on There is always a person to thank or encourage. Want to go the extra mile? Send a handwritten card in the mail.
- Keep your devotional and prayer life a priority even when time and sleep seem limited. There is only one foundation strong enough for the twists and turns of event planning and team management. That foundation is your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You’ll never regret time spent with Him. Where am I currently spending time? Book of Philippians
- We’re a bunch of sinners in desperate need of God’s grace and forgiveness. Satan works hard on Christ’s bride. Praise God that Jesus unconditionally and continually gives us His forgiveness. When we live at the foot of the cross and extend grace both to others and to ourselves, we can take on the work He has prepared for us to do.