The first is a fall planning meeting with students, families and ministry leaders. This can happen sometime in August – as people are getting back into the school groove. At this meeting, you want to celebrate, engage, inform and inspire.
Celebrate: Have some food. Share pictures and testimonies from the summer. Celebrate the ministry – all the camps, trips and other experiences you’ve just had. Celebrate what God has done and is doing in your life and the life of the ministry to students.
Engage: At this meeting, you want to make a special note to invite the students and families of the new rising grade. Welcome them, have something special to give them to help them feel a part of things. Engage those who haven’t been around much during the summer. Engage friends and new people you have met during the summer. It’s also a good time to invite your leadership students – the older or more mature ones in faith – and give them a serving role during the meeting. Help them start off the year serving along with you in ministry. It will engage them as servant leaders in the ministry.
Inform: Share information with your students and families. Share your big dates for the coming year – or at least the coming fall – printed and ready to hand out. You don’t need every single detail, but don’t print brainstorm ideas. What ever you distribute should already be in concrete. This is also a good time to inform families and students about policies regarding signing up, fundraising, registration deadlines, communication processes, contacts for leaders, social media outlets, and opportunities for parents or leaders to help during the coming year.
Inspire: This doesn’t have to be a long meeting, but briefly take some time to inspire the students and families. What is your vision for the ministry. Ask the question, “Who owns our ministry? Who owns the church?” Read Scripture. Inspire the students and families to make a commitment, in spite of all the scheduling issues in our culture, to put first things first. As CS Lewis said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Help them make a commitment to putting an emphasis on spiritual lives.
The second important meeting to get on the calendar is the Fall Kick Off Event for student ministry. This concrete date will be useful as the summer gets crazy bringing highs and lows of student involvement. The fall kick off should be listed as part of your summer ministry schedule. It gives people a light at the end of the tunnel from the summer whirlwind. Here are some thoughts about a fall kick off:
Regular Time Slot – If possible, plan your event during a regular meeting time. This will help people get into the habit of this weekly time slot for the fall.
Make It A Big Deal – There are many way to make it a big deal. Start publicity early. Get the date out to your students. Print some small cards with an invitation to the event. Name it. Hype it up. Get some people to back in financially. Get T-shirts. Invite a band or special guest to come to your event.
Enlist A Team – Don’t plan alone. You can set the date, but but enlist your team to help gather supplies, promote, schedule the event, etc. Have a team of volunteers to help during the event – welcoming, connecting, building relationships.
Invitation Incentives – Make it easy to invite people. If possible, make the event free or as close to free as possible. Have incentives for your students who bring friends. Push inviting!
Get Information – Make sure during this kick off event that you get contact information for every student there! Add them to your list.
WHY TAKE TIME TO SCHEDULE THESE EVENTS NOW? I’VE GOT TO GET THROUGH SUMMER!
You don’t need every detail for these events now, but it’s good to get them on the calendar so you have a date deadline to prepare for ministry in the coming year. It’s important for these events to be on the calender so you have something concrete as you transition from summer to fall. You’ll be catching families at a time when creating fall routines are important. You’ll give students who participate in all the camps and missions trips something to look forward to. You’ll also be able to connect with the families who have had a crazy summer and haven’t been too connected to church. Finally, you need to set these dates so you can begin planning and preparing little by little for the coming year. It takes time to get dates for next year together, dream about the future and set the direction for the ministry. You’ll be more motivated, with a deadline of these events, to begin intentionally preparing for next year!
If we can be helpful in any way, we ‘d love to partner with you. We would be happy to come to a fall kick off event or connect with you for a retreat, leadership training event or Sunday worship service. Contact us!