Three Tips for Planning Your Next Event

Some might say event planning is the “necessary evil” of youth ministry. While we don’t want to build our ministry on events, we do want to offer excellence in everything we do. Too often, our youth ministry calendars are designed with no rhyme or reason. We need to be intentional about choosing and planning events. If we determine an event is important, then we should work exceptionally hard to make sure it’s done well.

With these foundational ideas in mind, let’s consider what we need to do to plan events that are excellent and organized while remaining aligned with the purposes of the church. Here are three things to consider when planning events.

First, clarify the purpose of the event.
Many times, we do things simply out of routine without considering the purpose. Whether you’re planning a lock-in, service project, retreat or trip, you really need to clarify the reasons for such events so youth and parents will know why they should consider attendance. Create a purpose statement for the event that will align all events to the bigger picture. I think this is also a good time to revisit the purposes of your ministry. Events that align with your purposes are essential to effective ministry. Make your reasons clear.

Second, start communicating and planning earlier than you think you should.
It’s important to get events planned and publicized months in advance.  Every wedding these days sends an initial “save the date” card long before the actual announcement is sent out. If you are positive the event is taking place and you know for certain when the event is going to occur, send out that information early. For March events, I plan to have dates and event information out before Christmas. In today’s busy and fast-paced world, students need to know far in advance to make plans to attend. Even if the event isn’t completely planned, at least get the what and when information out sooner than later.

Third, use your imagination, work smarter, and pay the price.
Time and effort must be given to constantly make your event better. This requires assessment of previous events and creativity as you make adjustments. Some leaders will need to employ the assistance of some creative people. Dream big. Don’t settle for the status quo. Also, work hard but work smart. Use the advanced time you’ve given yourself to plan things well. Too often, youth workers short sell their events by just not investing time or money into making them amazing. Sometimes, we settle for less. Creative events take hours to plan. It’s hard work. If you know the event’s purpose and it fits your Kingdom vision, the hard work will be worth the results. This may mean going on a “pre-sight” trip. It will certainly mean thinking through all the details, knowing how much budget you have to spend, and anticipating possible problems.

Planning events and programs is just part of modern ministry, but it can’t replace the intangibles of Christian practice and relationship building. It can, however, enable these things to occur and increase the scope and breadth of ministry. If you determine that an event in ministry is worth doing, then it’s worth doing right!

Blair Spindle
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