Setting the Youth Ministry Calendar

Setting the Youth Ministry CalendarSo, it’s that time, isn’t it? If it isn’t…IT SHOULD BE!

What time is it? If you’re a youth ministry worker or leader, it’s time to determine the major calendar dates for your upcoming youth ministry year.

I can’t begin to say how important it is for our youth ministry to get the major dates in place for the entire year prior to beginning. These major dates ultimately determine the ebb and flow and rhythm of our youth ministry year.

So, if you’re convinced it’s time to start planning your calendar for the September to May 2012 youth ministry year, here’s some things to consider as you set major dates.

We are fortunate enough at our church to have a team of people who specialize in high level and strategic thinking. They are a resource to any ministry who chooses. Last week, we brought in one of these leaders. She is very familiar with our church and works there; however, she is not an insider within our Ground Zero ministry. In other words, she is a brilliant, strategic thinker who can referee and coach our team through analysis.

We spent two hours with her literally going over everything single event we ran. At each event, we analyzed what went well and what didn’t go well. Then, we placed each major event into one of three buckets: Maximize, Eliminate, or Create Something New.

The point: Before you plan your major events, spend time analyzing the year first. Without looking back, we simply can’t effectively move forward.

2. Remind Your Team Of Your Church’s Mission, Vision, and Values
It is vital whatever plans are made, they must be funneled through your church’s vision, mission, and values. Too often, us youth pastor types love to do things way outside the box. While outside the box thinking is fine, it must always fall within what your pastors and leaders have established as the direction of the church.

We are stewards of the mission of our church (to reach people for Christ) and the values (promoting grace, growth, groups, generosity, and gifts). We are stewards of our primary purpose (relationship with God and others) and our strategic intent (Is it relevant? Does it create ownership? Does it lead to transformation?). By asking ourselves these questions, we are limited to a pre-determined box. But if we are good employees and stewards of the vision set by our pastoral team, we must adhere to this standard.

3. Ask Questions
Beyond simply asking questions about what fits into the vision culture, we ask questions like:
* When are the natural school breaks and holiday breaks during the year?
* Is it sustainable?
* Can we do it really, really well?
* Is it low-effort, low impact, low effort high impact, high effort high impact (obviously, we wouldn’t do a high effort, low impact)?* * Is it a great use of our resources and the resources of our ministry’s families?

4. Focus On One Purpose One Event At A Time
At our church, we have five values we promote: Groups (Relationships), Grace (Yes to Jesus), Growth (Doing the Big 3 — Serving, Worshipping, Small Groups), Gifts (Serve), Generosity¬†(Giving). Essentially, we want to promote these throughout the year as well as promote Christian marks of evangelism, discipleship, worship, mission, and community. Therefore, we will generally use one purpose per event. For instance, we know our fall camp will be more of an evangelistic event, whereas our spring retreat will be more of a discipleship event.

5. Pray. Drop in Dates. And Be Willing to Change.
After analyzing, collaborating, asking questions, and dreaming, we simply pray, drop in the dates, and then realize these are rarely 100% set in stone. This year, I can be fairly certain the 5-7 key dates we dropped into our calendar today are set in stone, but we also keep a perspective that these are just penciled in.

Personally, I enjoy the lengthy process of setting key dates. I enjoy dreaming of our calendar and how it will be a part of changing kids’ lives.

Our next step will be to set our message series dates (more on that later).

How and when do you set your youth ministry calendar?