After the Big Event is Over

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Shawn Kiger

Whenever I finish up a big event like a mission trip or fundraiser, several things go through my mind. First: I’m glad it’s over! I love youth ministry, but am usually exhausted after a major event and blissfully relieved to be heading home. Second: I run though a quick evaluation in my head and start looking toward what is next. I have had to train my brain over the last few years to think about how to follow up with the students on what they just experienced.

Many of you have just finished up the 30 Hour Famine, since last weekend was the first National Date. I want to challenge you not to rush to the next thing. After you rest up some, and get something to eat, think through some of these suggestions and maybe come up with a few of your own.

I have always struggled getting my group back together after a big event. Like me, they have all moved on to the next thing. It’s not that the event was not meaningful or impactful—it’s just that we all lead busy lives. So the last couple years I’ve tried something different. When we are finished with a big event I now look for ways the youth can teach the congregation what they learned and experienced.  Usually the Sunday after the event they will lead worship for the entire congregation. I push them to share not just a timeline of what they did, but how they experienced God and what they learned from the experience. After the worship service I then look for other ways they can share. Sometimes they will teach in an adult Sunday school class or share during children’s ministry. I have one of them write a blog post for the church website.  They will share during youth group so that the youth who were not able to attend the event can hear about it (and maybe get them exited to attend next time). I also encourage them to share pictures and stories on social media.

Changing my thinking on follow up after a big event has achieved several things. First it gives the youth opportunities to lead in the church. Whether it is in worship or an adult Sunday school class it gives them the opportunity to be heard. Second, it creates an opportunity for the youth that are sharing to process the event and articulate what they want to say. Instead of being out of sight, out of mind, these opportunities push them to think through the experience. Lastly, it educates the entire congregation on what the youth are doing, learning, and how they are experiencing God.  As a bonus, the congregation sees the good work the youth are doing and are excited to support them.

There’s still a lot of merit in gathering the group back together after a big event. But in my experience finding alternative ways of sharing with the entire congregation has big benefits for everyone.