“Our staff are always out of the area.”
“I am being pulled out of the area and away from my family.”
How often have you heard, said or had these thoughts? If you are on staff, you can feel pulled in different directions. If you are on committee, you’re invested in the local area but also recognize that there are reasons for staff to be out of the area. If you are a spouse you feel the strain of the ministry schedule every day, not to mention when your husband of wife is out of town with Young Life.
What is the appropriate amount of time out of the area and how do we have a discussion about it? How much time are staff actually out of the area? While we will not be able to be exhaustive here, hopefully we can help to direct the conversation and put some better definition on “time out of the area.” In 2013 we did a study about what takes staff out of the area and for how much time. The study included 438 staff from all divisions. While the study is now five years old, the results are still very relevant. Below are some highlights and insights to help foster conversation between staff and committee, supervisors and family.
Below are general categories, the averages from our survey and general insights.
My Area: I am out of the area but it is related to the local ministry.
My area’s summer camping (one week).
My area’s weekend camping (one or two weekends, outreach, discipleship).
Volunteer leader/committee development ( weekends).
Insight: Although I am out of the area, I am with kids, leaders, and/or committee from my area. This impacts my family if they are not with me, but this should be considered area work.
Other Areas: Part of a staff’s job description is to be available to serve other areas in assignment team roles, whether it is in the summer or during the school year.
Other area’s weekend camping (one weekend, if applicable).
Summer Assignment. (one month, if applicable).
Assignment Team Training (three days, two nights, if applicable).
Insight: Serving others is important for our mission to function. These are great opportunities for staff to grow and develop skills that will benefit the local area. Summer assignments are generally a great blessing for families if they can attend but difficult for them when they cannot. Some of the staff that are more stressed about time out of the area are also those who say yes to too many extra weekends (two or more) that are not related to their area.
Regional Staff Meetings: As a supervisor, the regional director will gather the regional staff for development, encouragement and organizational alignment. Some regions can meet for a day. Others, due to the geographical scope, need to hold overnights. (Average of nine days throughout the year. Some grouped as overnights)
Insight: The biggest impact on family and local ministry is whether or not the meeting includes an overnight.
Training and Staff Development: Staff will be out of the area for theological and practical development.
National Training School: New Staff Training, Winter Training, Area Director School, Training Timeline, others (one week).
Ministry Summits: YL College, YoungLives, Capernaum (three days, two nights).
Regional Training Groups: (14 days throughout the year if applicable).
Insight: Young Life has a rich history and rhythm of training conferences and ongoing training in the field. These are relatively consistent with other professions. All of these are designed to have direct impact back into the local ministry and staff.
Vacation: We need to make sure that staff are taking time off for their health. The amount of time varies greatly due to how long people are on staff. The conversation here should not be about taking time off (unless it is being abused), but rather when the time is taken. There are better times during the ministry year to take time off and should be coordinated with the supervisor per the new PTO policy.
So what is the right number of days/nights out of the area? As you can see it depends. Not all time out of the area is the same. Not counting summer assignments (not everyone has an assignment) nor vacation, the average staff will be out of the area with Young Life for four to five weeks worth of days and about two-thirds of those will include the nights. That means that most staff (including assignments and vacation) are still in the area for 40-45 of the 52 weeks.
Because opportunities come up that can take staff out of the area for additional time, we encourage a healthy conversation between staff, supervisor, committee and family to maintain an appropriate schedule. Have a regular and ongoing conversation to understand the reason and impact (positive and negative) to being out of the area.
— Written by Mike Cramer (firstname.lastname@example.org )