Question-300x300As summer is quickly coming to an end and fall is quickly approaching, I like to think about how the events or programs I oversee can be better. I also like to brainstorm new ones. My goal is to learn from my failures with summer events, so I don’t repeat them in the fall. Through failure I’ve grown to love the planning process a lot more. Here are 7 questions I ask myself based off of events/programs that I didn’t think all the way through.

  1. What’s the purpose of the event/program? – Knowing the purpose of the event I’m planning helps me gauge my target audience. Not every student will want to come to a worship event or discipleship event. Knowing the purpose allows me to go all out on promotion that is specifically created with the purpose of the event in mind.  My goal is to reach those I’ve identified as my potential taget.
  2. Will students want to come? –  I have to be careful that I don’t plan something based on my own preference but I plan something that will be great and fun for students. I’ve pulled core students in on the planning just to get their perspective on an event or program.
  3. Is there opportunity for building relationships? – I think of this question in terms of student to student or leader to student. Of course there will be both going on but being intentional about which one best fits the event takes the event to the next level.  A lot of times I push students to our events so they can get connected, so I have to think about that during the planning process.
  4. Is there follow-up or next steps needed? – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed the opportunity to challenge students to take the next step or follow-up with them because I didn’t think it through beforehand. I’ve been thinking about helping students follow-up with friends that they bring to events. This is definitely a question you want to ask yourself.
  5. Should it cost and is it the right amount? - I’m always thinking is there a way not to charge. Sometimes it’s doable, like the park day we do where we provide lunch, but this is not always the case. Some events or programs have no budget and students have to pay, which is ok, as long as it’s the right price point which has been thought through. Parents will definitely appreciate this step.
  6. Where can we cut cost? – Again I’m thinking about budget and parents. Budget money is coming from people who believe in the God given mission of the church. I definitely want to care about where their money is going. So where can we save money is the question.
  7. How can we help students invite their friends? – Students are connected non-stop with their friends through social media and text. We’ve had great success using these mediums to help them invite their friends.  The goal is to be as creative as you can be.  If you’re not that creative get some of your students to help you.  They will love it and you will have potentially started a new ministry.

Now, I know there are more than just seven questions, so what else can we think about in the planning process to make it the best event/program ever?  Would love to hear your thoughts!!!

hope it helps


Changing Things Up: 7 NIGHT

 —  September 12, 2012 — 2 Comments

The summer this year flew by and I can’t believe we are going to kick off our new school year of Journey in just a few days. Over the summer, I spent a lot of time praying and thinking about what we needed to change this year and set out a few goals and one of them being:

We need to break up the year so that our youth gather wouldn’t continue to be a replacement for Church.

The reality was that with worship, preaching, small groups and community, it ticks off most of the boxes as far as what life in the Church is like. There is huge value in all of those things, but we discerned that we needed to make some adjustments to break up our year to help students connect more on Sundays and from that came 7 Night

We have Journey (our youth group) Thursday nights with Jr High from 6:30 to 8:30 and Sr High from 7:30 to 9:30 with them overlapping for worship. It has been a great model for us, but we have been finding that especially in the long stretch after Christmas, we would lose momentum, as the program was similar week in and week out. Not only that, but few students are attending on Sunday services but since we are not “Church” we are free to rejig to help alleviate these challenges we have noticed.

So this year we have decided to work in 6-week teaching modules with the 7th week being something totally different called 7 Night. The start time for 7 Night is 30 mins later for the Jr High and 30 mins earlier for Sr High. If we do an event that night, we are committing to the cost being only $7

7 Night happens every 7th Week @ 7:00pm and cost $7

The first 7 Night is the week of Halloween, the second is 2 weeks out from Christmas, the third is Valentines day, the fourth right after March break and the last on is near the May long weekend (Canada).  So far we are planning a student run talent show, 5 minute film festival, Inner-city missions night, and are working on finding a youth group to crash one night.

Our student leaders and volunteers are pumped about it. Ask me in June if it was a success but with buy-in like we have, I think its going to be a huge success.

-Geoff (Twitter)

Enjoyed stumbling across this old blog post from Ron Merrell (he was our camp speaker this past summer) about the 4 P’s of Church Stickyness. Program, People, Placement and Promise. Here’s a clip of his thoughts on one of them – head there for the rest:

PEOPLE – Friendly. Welcoming. Diverse. Kind. Warm. Knowledgeable. Genuine. Sincere. Safe. Compassionate. Able to listen. Loving. Respectful. Gentle. Energetic. If these words described everyone in your church, you’d be the most magnetic place in town. And I’m not just thinking about your “greeters” or “staff.” I’m thinking about your congregation. As the Lord does His work in your people, you hope that it produces the qualities above and more! People. But what can you do to develop the second “P” of church, especially when there is a less-than-friendly vibe to your crowd?

This is a hard one, because as a staff person you can create several things to allow people to connect, get them integrated into relationships, feel welcomed initially, etc. But… there’s a difference between “having a church full of winsome, loving, genuine people who go out of their way to greet others” and creating a “greeting team.” The first is better, but WAY harder to create! Focus hard on this one. You can’t train, teach, emphasize, and value real, Christ-like community enough. People WILL tolerate a subpar Program if the People are amazing. But, over the long haul, People will NOT tolerate subpar relationships even if the Program rocks.

Is your church … your youth ministry … sticky?


From time to time we open our services with a cover song – a song from the radio or in our culture that has a fun element to kick things off. This won’t work in every context, but thought you might like to see what one of them looks like in action. Here’s one of our seniors, Kyle Smith, performing Muse’s Feeling Good at the start of Senior Weekend a couple weeks ago.


Remembering stuff . . . again -hanging with kids this summer

Concrete & Abstract- I’m trying to live in the middle here resisting the temptation to go with either extreme. Jr highers are not incapable of abstract thoughts, they are newbies. If they are beginning to dabble in abstract thought I hope that they do so first in a healthy faith based environment (Church stuff yo!) .

Yes, it’s old to you. It’s not old to them. Don’t do Other stuff that keeps you interested and loses them.

Kids are afraid of being made fun of in large groups, one mistake can destroy many bridges . . . Do other stuff

If it takes longer to explain the meaning of a song than to sing it . . . do Other stuff

Aside from the bible, stories from your personal experience connect better than . . . Other stuff

Teach kids to pray, it’s more important than . . . Other stuff

Being willing to & even looking for opportunities to laugh at myself, helps create the attitude I want my fellow workers to share better than any . . . Other stuff

Churchy words can be redeemed. Do the work to define them.
& don’t assume they know simpler words! Mine last week: rebellious. Yep, if I hadn’t defined it clearly from the beginning #wastedtime #thanksgirlincaf

Kids are not important only when they show up, sometimes they have . . . Other stuff

Remembering names is more important than . . . Other stuff

Don’t belittle their problems, culture or pain or they will find . . . Other stuff

“It’s Friday”, as much as we make fun of it, is a great song this summer! Have your band cover it.