#10 – Special Events and Activities
You might think that pot lucks and ice cream socials, but according to the research of over 8,000 new members at Saddleback Church - special events and activities rank the lowest on this best of 10 survey. Most churches spend an inordinate amount of time on planing events and activities for their people – when in fact it is only a minor factor in keeping people engaged as members. What would it look like if we reduced the glut of activities and events that are usually more work than they’re worth anyhow? If they play such an insignificant role, why not redirect some of that budget and manpower to something that is more important?

Youth ministry application: activities and events certainly have their place, but don’t waste your most precious resources on them. Chances are, maybe a few larger, annual events would give you a better return on your effort, without the total drain on the family, calendar and budget.

Whats your take on the importance of special events and activities?


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?


Our annual HSM Bowl is coming up in just two weeks. Going to be a blast! I’ll post the rules and details soon – here’s a promo video from this weekend’s service.