Student Ministries have the privilege of creating events where teens can experience God in new ways. Retreats, mission projects, lock-ins, day trips, and conferences offer opportunities that are out of our ordinary, daily existence. By their nature, they uniquely expand the space for the Holy Spirit to move.
As youth leaders, we need to responsibly plan and carry out events. Parents place their sons and daughters in our care for a few hours or even for a few weeks. Honor their trust by preparing well.
We’ve all heard: “Just be flexible.” “We’re leaving space for the Holy Spirit to move.” “Relax…God is in control.” Indeed, all true statements. Say them meaningfully and not as an excuse for poor planning. With the details covered, you and your fellow leaders can be a more meaningful part of the students’ experiences instead of putting out fires ignited by unpaid bills, lack of necessary paperwork, insufficient supplies, and unrealized expectations.
Below are the four critical steps to hosting a ministry event. A checklist can be downloaded as well. Not a step but truly essential is prayer. It must be intricately woven throughout the entire planning process.. Time on your knees needs to undergird every decision. Furthermore, sharing the concerns and joys with faithful prayer warriors builds a rock-solid foundation for the ministry before, during and after the event.
Step 1:: Research
The type of event determines how much research is needed. Events from scratch especially require much more time. Your ministry, however, can customize every detail to the specific needs of your own students. When choosing the location consider your theme, distance to travel, and budget. Work out the financial details including add-on fees (a/v equipment, room rentals, outdoor activities), minimum participants requirements, and potential cancellation fees.
Some weekend and daylong events are fully planned by other ministry organizations. You can move on to the reservation step as soon as you work through your budget (costs for registration, transportation, meals and lodging if needed; costs per student and adult; consider how your ministry can subsidize the cost for adult leaders).
Step 2:: Reserve
With the initial plans complete, sign the contracts with confidence! If you have not already done so, add the event to the church calendar. Request vehicle use if your church is so blessed. Share details with the adult leaders in your ministry. Ask them to pray about serving with you on the event. Begin publicity to students and parents so they too can reserve the dates for the event.
Step 3:: Ready the Content
Next prepare the materials. Simple to say but … wow … the potential for much to do! Some events need ony a few signs and an agenda with time slots. Others are more complex with messages to prepare, small group discussion guides to write, game supplies to gather, and devotionals to copy. A few important items to include with the group packing include first aid kits, medical forms with parent contact information, and maps/directions for each driver. These, of course can be delegated but you are ultimately responsible as the group leader. Much prayer required!
Step 4:: Wrap up
Upon conclusion of the event, recognize that there is still work to be done. Send thank you notes to the adult leaders (a card with the group picture is always a lovely treat!), clean out and gas up the church vehicles (or request someone to help), complete any reimbursements to leaders (and to yourself!), and make final notes to yourself about what to keep and what to change next time. In short … finish well.
Time with students is precious. Preparing well allows you to make every moment count.
Download the outline of tasks: Event To Do