Learning from your 30 Hour Famine mistakes


Sean Garner, Director of Youth Ministry at Hempfield United Methodist Church, Lancaster Pennsylvania

Learning from your 30 Hour Famine mistakesThe BEST way to grow is learning from our mistakes–and Jesus generously provides hundreds of opportunities for failure during a year of ministry, especially with an event like the 30 Hour Famine.

Take 30 minutes by yourself (or with a team of 30 Hour Famine volunteers over burgers or coffee) and use this simple “one-hand” approach to think about how God can use those mis-steps for an amazing Famine (or any other ministry event) next year.

My biggest learning curve in doing the 30 Hour Famine was being willing to “dive” into my mistakes–figuring out how to let God re-direct my plans by lighting up my blind spots in neon colors.

Five 30 Hour Famine mistakes

Thumbs Up

Like most things in life, start off on the positive. What people and experiences were great, irreplaceable and amazing from this year’s 30 Hour Famine? Write them down with BIG letters. Learn how to be a cheerleader for the good stuff God did. From the first few minutes as the students arrived until the “post-Famine” meal- what worked well? Remember and celebrate how great doing ministry with God can be.

Pointer Finger

Next, right down the experiences, teachings, videos or other parts of your Famine that really drove home the point. Just because we are older than the teens we serve doesn’t mean that we are wiser. Something that we would never anticipated can bring the Famine into clear light for our students. As you think (or talk) try to discover what the steps within EXPERIENCE were, since it is often easier to build a similar process without just repeating the same event.

Middle Finger

Be honest, some things about every ministry experiences are awful. As Paul writes in Philippians 1:29  “It has been given to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” and, well, most are self-inflicted wounds! Was it your planning, your patience, your people, yourself? Did a particular game or idea completely miss? Did you pace your energy to last for the entire 30 hours?  Did your volunteers feel appreciated? Each of these painful failures can make next year’s Famine better as we respond to their honest critique on our leadership.

Ring Finger

What deeper commitment did God call out during this year’s Famine? Was there a particular calling that your students felt toward those in need- a particular child or nation, a particular need or relief branch within World Vision? Orient your ministry toward the calling God seems to be making and plan similar serving or giving events in the future that match that commitment to eliminate hunger.

Pinky Finger

Finally, what are the small things you could have easily missed during all this evaluation that made this year unique. Remember, God often speaks in a still, small voice amidst all the noise of ministry- so what lesson could easily be missed? We’re often so STUCK on our thoughts and analysis that we miss small things like how this year’s 30 Hour Famine made us or our students “feel”.  What small things resonated beneath all the action of the 30 Hour Famine that will help us transform next year’s events into something amazing.