March is a month of transitions. We “spring forward” our clocks. We start wishing away the cold chill of winter and welcome the warm reprieve of spring. Seniors start feeling the pull of graduation. Upcoming elementary students begin anticipating the jump to youth ministry.
In March, I always meet with my youth committee and begin preliminary planning for the next school year. My “youth year” runs from August to July so it coincides with school semester cycles. When the calendar page flips to March, I know it’s time to contemplate next year.
I have to admit, I didn’t always like to plan my youth year out in advance. I went, metaphorically, kicking and screaming. Now that I plan out everything, I can’t imagine going back to the old month-to-month planning that plagued my ministry in the past.
From my experience, many rural churches don’t like this approach. I struggled at my last church trying to put together even a six-month calendar because leadership didn’t operate that way. Often, church programs and initiatives were planned on weeks (and sometimes days) notice. Even in my current ministry context, I scared some of my leaders when I pulled out a calendar and started plotting dates.
With all that being said, we’re going to spend some posts looking at calendaring your youth ministry. We’ll start with the question on a lot of people’s minds: why?
One reason is to keep your ministry organized. If every event is plotted out, you know exactly what’s coming up and when it is. You can ebb and flow major events with minor events. You can buy items for events when they are on sale instead of having to wait until the last minute and pay full price (or worse yet, not finding it at all.)
Another reason to plan long-term is to keep parents informed. Students are busy year-round. From baseball and soccer to camp and vacation, parents’ schedules fill up quick. With a calendar, parents and students know when you have events scheduled and can adjust their schedules accordingly. There is no excuse that vacation and camp are the same week. If it’s on the calendar, they can plan accordingly.
Here’s a personal reason I love calendaring: It makes family-life easier. By April, almost every major event is mapped out for the next 15 months. I can hand it to my wife and she can veto certain dates or simply start scheduling around some of our events. Conflicts always come up, but with a calendar, we know as a family that certain weekends are ministry weekends and we know them in advance.
Ultimately, having a calendar is about information. It’s information for you, parents, leaders and the church. They know what you have planned and they know when you have it planned. That leads to less headaches and better relationships.
A year-long calendar will improve your ministry.