Are you much of a planner? Sometimes the thought of trying to plan a year for youth ministry is overwhelming – I’ve tried to distill what we do annually into a three step process. This hopefully helps!

The first step…

Why do you want or need a plan? Is it because you have to turn one in to leadership? Is it because you want to be intentional about communicating events? Is it because you want to be intentional about a topic and develop congruency throughout the year for a specific topic? Answering these questions will help to determine the function and goal of the planning process.

The second step…

Gathering the team that will be implementing the plan. This may be volunteers, student leaders, or paid staff. Do not assume because they are student leaders or volunteers that they don’t need to be a part of the process. The best plans come from those that are invested in their success. Once you have gathered the team, identify the things that worked well from the last year and identify the things that didn’t work well. After the success list and things needed for improvement list is created I like to stop and pray as a team. It’s important that the Holy Spirit is the leader that inspires vision and creativity. The Holy Spirit may whisper one word like Worship, and that can create focus and a theme throughout the year.

The third step…

I like to sketch our whole year out and include all of the youth events in our region such as mission trips, conferences, Project Timothy etc. I pay attention to dates, costs, and upcoming vacation dates, holidays etc. I like to gauge resources of those that will be leading. Next, I add fun events again spreading out costs and resources. I try to add those nights as a youth night, not asking for another night of commitment. Next, I am intentional about an outreach opportunity once a quarter. If they are included in a youth event I count that. Lastly, I plan youth nights for a quarter (12 weeks at a time). We do our first planning meeting in August and use the school year as a guide. I ask the team to gather again to plan 8 weeks from this date and 2 more planning meetings 12 weeks a part. Sometimes, we pick a theme and create our own lessons, sometimes we have used curriculum like Vineyard’s new Youth curriculum, and we have used the new Alpha course for youth. We try to assign worship, snack, games, and teaching at the planning meeting.

Why do I have a plan? I feel having a planning team creates opportunity to mentor other leaders. By delegating different activities more people are involved. The more people involved the better the team can identify the group’s needs. Lastly, its way more fun to lead with others because the shared responsibility is a great buffer for burnout.  The plan usually gets tweaked, but it is a great starting point. If you have never had a year plan consider trying it out. Start step by step, but remember Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

Cheri Brock
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