Monday, April 14, 2014

Writing a Yearly Youth Calendar

It has been almost a year since I last posted here, a fact which I greatly regret. Despite the busy-ness of my year, I believe it is time for me to come back and begin sharing my resources again, so today I would like to offer some tips for how and why to write a yearly calendar for the youth.

Why the Calendar Is Important

I'd like to focus on the following three benefits to planning a yearly calendar:
  • Sets out event planning schedule
  • Students (and parents) know when things will happen
  • Budgeting can be set in place
When planning an event, it is important for you (as the planner) and for participants in those events to be aware of deadlines. For the planner, starting with the date of the event and working backward for deadlines can make the planning process much smoother. Here is an example:

Summer camp is June 7-10th. By June 9th, you should have everything packed and all the forms organized. By June 1st, all the medical forms and student payments should be turned in. By May 15th, all applications should be turned in. By April 15th, advertising should begin in church and youth group. By April 10th, reservations should be confirmed. Working backward in this way allows planning to be spaced out helps you keep focus and perspective.

The same benefit applies to youth and parents. A yearly calendar (or even a monthly one) given to each family allows them to plan around ministry events, prepare financially, and be aware of events they may have missed announcements about. When families are more aware of the timing and cost of events, they are more likely to be involved, increasing the reach of the ministry and therefore the number of people hearing the Gospel.

One final benefit to planning a yearly youth calendar is the budget. Most churches require a proposed budget for the year by a certain date. If the yearly events are not set in place, the cost of those events will be unknown. Of course, if the event costs are unknown, the proposed "budget" for that year will be a stab in the dark, causing probable over- or under-budgeting. Over- or under-budgeting may lead the congregation to evaluate your financial strategies and possibly even reconsider your position on staff.

In conclusion, calendar planning is vital to maintaining the ministry and more effectively sharing the Gospel of Christ.

How to Organize the Calendar

Now that you know three reasons to organize the calendar, let's look at three ways to organize it:
  • Be aware of church/community calendar
  • Start with date-specific events, then fill in as needed
  • Be well-rounded/have a variety of events
The most important thing to remember when planning the youth calendar is the church and community calendar. Youth events scheduled at the same time as church or community events will often be neglected in favor of the latter. Planning a youth lock-in the same night as prom or homecoming, for example, would be a poor scheduling choice. Admittedly, it is difficult to plan around certain events when those dates will not be announced until they approach, but others are known far in advance. If the church Christmas party is usually the first weekend in December, the youth caroling event should be planned for another weekend. Easter, Thanksgiving, and other holidays should be planned around, and the expected dates of school dances, finals week, and annual class trips should also be avoided when scheduling youth events.

When actually formulating the calendar, you should keep in mind date-specific events and plan around those. If the youth group is hosting a Lenten dinner for the church, and the church is hosting an Easter egg hunt the Saturday before Easter, those dates should go in the calendar first; the spring lock-in and servant event can be added later. If too many events are packed into a small amount of time, youth, with their already busy schedules, may disengage from the youth group as the easiest part of their schedule to reduce.

Finally, a variety of activities on the calendar allows the youth programming to reach a maximum potential audience. Some youth will be most receptive to the Gospel in a concert setting; others will respond better to a servant event. The calendar should have events for all levels of spiritual growth, with the majority of events targeted toward the primary spiritual level of the youth group--if the majority of the youth are not Christians, most events should be outreach, and if the majority are strong in their faith, most events should be in-depth studies or servant events.

The importance of writing a yearly youth calendar cannot be overestimated. I hope you take these tips into consideration as you begin preparing for your next school year! As always, please feel free to leave feedback.

God's blessings,