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4 Guiding Principles for Planning the Youth Ministry Calendar

Josh Griffin —  April 15, 2011 — 3 Comments

This week we snuck away for the afternoon to take a stab at creating the first draft of our fall youth ministry calendar. There were lots of laughs and some good ideas for what’s next for HSM. Here’s a few things that were running around in my head yesterday, and am thinking about as I continue to process the stuff we came up with for our students:

Kill the sacred cows.
Each year, everything is on the chopping block. Annual events are fun and I totally love and support traditions, but have to be careful they don’t become something doesn’t becomes untouchable. Sacred cows haunt the halls of too many churches, this will not be one of them. Nothing is sacred. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when someone offers up one of my favorites to be sacrificed, but I have to be willing to put a bullet in it.

Effective is what matters most.
This ties in pretty closely with the first principle, but what matters more is not size, buzz or fun. Those things do matter and certainly play into our decisions – but what matters most is whether the event we are putting on the calendar is effective. If a discipleship class is bombing, don’t get rid of discipleship, just search for a way to do discipleship that is more effective. If an evangelistic event is huge but isn’t bringing students to Christ and/or back to church, why bother with it? Put aside personal feelings and inferior measurements and talk about effectiveness.

Know your unique strengths, identity and culture.
Here’s a few of ours that help shape what we do: the fall has natural momentum with the launch of small groups and the launch of our weekend services. Fun after-service events have been way more effective than separate night our events. We are an evangelistic-leaning ministry (trying to balance the biblical purposes). If you know where you’re leading your youth ministry and have a firm grip on your strengths and specific culture, it will help you guide the planning session accordingly.

Last years successes can be this years successes … or failures.
Don’t change for the sake of change – but realize what worked last year may not work again. Copying the previous year may seem like a good idea (and it just might be) but be careful not to get too comfortable in the same path because they easily turn into ruts. Surrounding your past, present and future plans in prayer and asking God to guide you into your future is always a good plan.

I wrote 5 Steps to Calendar on Purpose a couple years ago … might also be helpful. What else?

JG

Josh Griffin

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3 responses to 4 Guiding Principles for Planning the Youth Ministry Calendar

  1. Just curious what you would say to someone who doesn’t do their own Student Ministry services on the weekends. Do the Student Ministries and regular Sunday morning church services need to match up at all?

  2. Good question! I think you could make a good case for either direction – in my experience, whether we had youth group on a separate night or during adult church services, I’ve never matched up service topics. We do occasionally (once a year) for a church-wide campaign, but our adult services are never planned out far enough in advance and are constantly changing so matching up is next to impossible. At the same time, I do like the idea of everyone matching, too. Your call and your culture I guess!

    JG

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Killing the Sacred Cows | More Than DodgeBall - Youth Ministry Blog by Josh Griffin - Saddleback Church's High School Youth Ministry (HSM) - April 16, 2011

    [...] use to play this clip when he talked about some programs in the church that need to be ended. Blogging a little bit yesterday about sacred cows on the calendar made me think of it. [...]

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