The American youth pastor has developed a reputation over the years of being disorganized. This is due in large part to the fact that the average youth pastor is in fact disorganized. I’ve talked with many fellow full-time pastors who oversee teen ministries at their church while fulfilling multiple other responsibilities. Coupled with the increasing number of part-time or volunteer leaders we find that this decade’s youth pastor needs to run an sleek and efficient ship by planning ahead.
I’m a huge fan of planning one year in advance. We dream the year’s theme with our team and develop a yearlong Wednesday night strategy. This past school year we decided to highlight the life of Jesus through the storytelling of the Gospels because we saw a need for Bible knowledge (which I see as a generational need, not just location-specific… a future post). Our sermon series are outlined with Scriptures and we quickly sketch graphics ideas by navigating the many free resources out there (another future post). I find that this saves me an incredible amount of Wednesday night prep time. I’ve now gone over a year without having thinking, “What am I going to speak about tonight?” It’s a beautiful feeling.
I believe in creating a culture of events by repeating them. We offer five every year. I love the expectation for “next year” that comes with a successful event. We’re connected to a district of churches that offers a convention, camp, missions trip, and amusement park day all “pre-packaged”. That leaves us with only one major event (camping) that we fully-execute ourselves. Repeating events allows us to set dates and prices a year in advance.
Feel free to contact me if you need help organizing your student ministry year. Here’s a link to my rough draft calendar that I work from every August. I’d encourage all youth pastors to commit to planning out your year. Honestly there’s no excuse for not doing, because after all, we are professionals. Don’t give anyone a reason to call us disorganized.