Fall is a time when we all begin to think about our priorities in ministry. Questions like, “What do I want my students to learn this school year?” and, “How can we make the most out of our time together?” begin to swirl around in our heads. Most of us have the opportunity to teach students 1-2 hours a week for about 50 weeks a year and the average attendee of our youth ministries will attend just over half of those gatherings in a year. To teach our students with intentionality and fluidity, we need to have a clear plan. We need to set goals for our teaching and think deeply about the things that we want them to learn in that year. We need to be willing to challenge our students to grow spiritually and walk with them as they learn new insights about God. We need to be just as intentional planning our services as we are planning our weekend retreats and attractive events. Luckily, there are a few essential and easy steps to coming up with a year of sermon planning for your youth ministry.
Spend time in Prayer
Planning isn’t just about what you want the students to learn. We need to take time in prayer about what God would want to teach our students. Remember that no youth leader or youth worker has the power to change hearts and lives, only God does. Seek God’s will over your own and continually seek God’s will as you go through this process.
Research Your Context
Find out what sermon series connected with your students in the previous year. Ask your students where they feel like they are lacking in their spiritual lives and how they want to grow. Observe your students as they interact with their friends and peers at church. Look for new trends in the media or events that might impact your teens on an everyday basis. Share your thoughts with your adult volunteers or small student leadership group and talk through some of the teachings or concepts that they see a need for in your group.
Implement the Plan
Get out your calendar, sit down with your team of leaders, and find dates that work for your lessons. Realize that some dates might not work for a specific sermon series and that you might need to adjust some of your more impactful nights around sports games and national holidays. You might want some weeks to be blocked out for a sermon series and others to be left open to preach from the lectionary. Whatever your strategy, make sure that you have a plan written down along with a scripture reference and theological idea for each week. Don’t be afraid to share some of your upcoming lessons with your volunteers and parents ahead of time so that they can be praying for you as you prepare to share with those in your youth ministry.
Let the Lord Move
As you work through your calendar, there will be weeks that you are so thankful to be working off of a preaching calendar. There are weeks when you would not know where to begin with your students if you didn’t have a calendar set in front of you, making sense of your goals for the students. However, there will be times that you feel the Lord leading you in a different direction. Remember that the preaching calendar can be a great tool to help with organization and building a youth ministry but should always be held under the leading of the Holy Spirit.