The week between Christmas and New Year is a good time to take a look at next year. To start with, I usually print off a monthly calendar. Make sure your calendar begins with Sunday (I want to start a personal revolution again calendars that begin on Monday). When you find you have an extra block of time, spend a moment asking God to direct and give you insight into the gift of time. Then take some time in each of these areas:
I remember Hule Goddard saying the first thing you should do on your calendar is block off your personal time. It sounds selfish, but it’s important. It is true that we remember moments, and not days, so, we must plan for Sabbath, refreshment, growth, and relationships.
Questions to ask: What major family things do I know about right now for next year? Anniversaries, birthdays, family reunions, weddings? Have I penciled in a vacation at work? If so, put it on your calendar. Do I know the sporting schedules for my kids? Can I find it out? What days are my kids off school? What weekend would be good to block off a mini-trip for the family or a trip to visit a friend somewhere? Do I know my semester schedule? Exam week? Be creative in scheduling time for relationships and important times for others. I remember growing up that when schedules got tight, but we still wanted to celebrate a birthday or other event, we would meet for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Those were fun times. Putting something on paper brings the reality of doing something creative much closer!
Additionally, blocking time off and planning for a personal retreat of some kind is a great way to make your ministry more genuine! There are many different ways to do this. One January, I met with several guys for a day of silence. We met together at a camp on Friday night, hung out and then agreed to get up at 7:30 AM and be silent until late afternoon. Once we broke the silence, we debriefed together what we had learned. Other times, I have spent a block of time going to a camp ground and just reading, writing and reflecting. Plan for that time in your calendar.
Youth Ministry Leaders:
Once you have planned some personal calendar items, here are some questions to ask for your ministry: When do you typically meet with your students? What’s the current schedule? Is it working well? Is it effective? What were a few high points last year that you want to include again this year? What are some major weekend or ministry events that you know about right now? Camp dates, music festivals, retreats, conferences? (it’s ok if you don’t have everything, but just get started in thinking about the things you typically do). What about the school calendar? Any days off that you could utilize for a youth ministry event? What are some major weekends to stay away from – prom, graduation, etc? What about your training and equipping for your youth leaders? Do you know of any training events that you could invite your youth sponsors to attend? What about setting up your own training event?
Prayerfully consider some of the themes and lessons that your students might need to know and learn about. Sketch those out. You may be planned out for the school year already, but if not, what will you talk about in January? What other experiences can you set up that will help students understand the lessons you want to teach them – guest speakers, trips, local mission opportunities? If you meet weekly, there are four Sundays in January, four in February and four in March (not counting Easter). What about creating some monthly themes?
Planning fun stuff:
Students, even though they seem to be getting “older quicker”, are still students – or kids! Help them enjoy their middle school and high school days in the context of the church. Getting the youth from your church together for simple fun is good. Don’t get caught in the trap of trying to over spiritualize things. In fact, one of the ways that people experience God – those inside and outside the church – is through relationships. What night can you take all the guys (or send all the guys) for lazer tag? What night could you pencil in for the girls in your group (if you have a larger group, maybe just the juniors and seniors) to meet at a female sponsors home for a slumber party? Is there a Monday they are out of school that you could extend the Sunday night meeting time to about 10:30 or 11:00 just for fun? What about a retreat for the older kids in the ministry? What about a plan for pulling in the sixth grade students next fall? Something special you could do with them? When you are thinking of things, be creative – they don’t have to be expensive things, but opportunities for kids to have fun.
Planning for effectiveness:
Ministry is done best as a team. Is there someone that you have been thinking about that might be good to help in the youth ministry? If so, jot down a time in early January to meet that person for lunch, have them over after church on Sunday or just invite them to a particular event. Maybe plan a meeting for potential youth workers some Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. Take some time to teach the congregation the importance of working with the next generation – January is a great time to pull people in!
Harvest is available:
If Harvest can be helpful in your ministry, give us a call! We could love to come share music and teaching for a special youth ministry event at your church, provide music on a Sunday morning, or lead a retreat, conference event. We would also like to invite your church to participate in Ignition Middle School Conferences, Fire-Up Sr. High Conference, The Light Kids Conference, Beautiful U, and The Well for Youth Workers! For information about any of these ministries, please visit www.harvestconferences.org or contact Tim Price at 618-667-6241 ext 14.