Planning Ahead


by Shawn Kiger

Planning AheadIf you are like me, the end of summer is bittersweet. I enjoy the summer mission trips and the break from the school year routine. But I also look forward to school starting back, getting to meet new students, and returning to the routine of weekly youth group.

One of the end of summer tasks that I have found to be helpful is planning out the coming school year, and starting to think about the following summer. I’ve really had to force myself to do this, because my tendency is to procrastinate and plan weekly. I used to tell myself that planning last minute was better because I could respond to things happening in the students’ lives more effectively than when I was locked in to a plan. Several things have changed my mind.

My volunteers are much happier when I can lay out the plan for them. They feel more comfortable knowing when the trips are, where we’re going, and a general idea of what we will be doing weekly. Quite frankly, it also makes me look good in front of them too!

Having a yearlong plan also helps me look at the church calendar and talk with the pastor about how we can incorporate youth into the larger life of the church. Programs like 30 Hour Famine are much more successful when they fit into the plans of the entire church.

Finally, this way of planning is very helpful for parents. They can add trips and events to their calendars and begin planning for the cost. Their teenagers are super busy, and if they want to include the youth ministry in their lives, then they have to be able to plan ahead.

My yearlong planning doesn’t mean that I don’t make changes throughout the year. Things come up that will force or call for a change of plans. I could be trying something and figure out that it doesn’t work; so I stay flexible enough to make adjustments.

But having a clear direction at the beginning of the school year gives me a much better shot at having a successful year. Plus, it never hurts to look like you have it all together in front of parents, volunteers, and your pastor!