Total Impact: 4 Levels of 30 Hour Famine Planning  


By Sara Clarke 

Planning a youth event can be a daunting task, but planning an intentional 30-hour block of time with hangry teens can seem downright impossible. As a former youth director—now youth volunteer—I know how difficult it can be planning events and retreats. It’s especially challenging when you’re trying to create a meaningful experience that will spark a lasting impact in the lives of the teens you serve. So when I asked the youth director at my local church what was planned for the upcoming 30 Hour Famine, I could totally relate to the “deer-in-the-headlights” look on her face. When I also learned this was going to be the youth group’s very first Famine experience, the youth director and I immediately started brainstorming ways this event could have the most impact within our own context and group dynamics.

Our brainstorming session quickly revealed 4 areas to jump-start and focus our planning for the Famine event:

1. Impacting the Youth

2. Impacting the Church

3. Impacting the Community

4. Impacting the World

These areas can work together to create a lasting impact both during and after your group’s event. Using the tool kit available through the 30 Hour Famine website as a starting point, you can create the framework for a powerful and meaningful Famine experience. Intentionality is key. You can of course keep it simple, but if you’re looking to up your Famine game or really want your students to get the most out of this event, i encourage you to take some extra time to think through why you’re doing the 30 Hour Famine and how this experience can be unique and meaningful for your youth group.

When planning it helps to start personal, explore local, and expand global. Below I’ve listed some thoughts and questions regarding the four areas to help plan the event for your group’s individual context.

1. Youth Impact – Creating a foundation for your students to care

You may start planning and wonder, “what if the youth don’t care and can’t relate to hunger-related issues?” To be honest, this may be the case. If it’s your group’s first Famine experience you may want to consider exploring the “whys” before your event takes place. Start talking about the issues during youth group or Sunday school. Discuss global hunger as well as local hunger. The key is to make the subject relatable to the youth so they feel a connection with the issues at hand. Get conversations going about what they’ve seen or know about hunger. Challenge them to start paying attention at school, work, or when driving around town. It may help to keep these three questions in mind:

-How will I educate the youth about the issues and why we’re doing this?

-How will the youth relate or connect with the issues?

-How will their experience during the 30 Hour Famine impact their understanding of hunger? 

2. Church Impact – Getting your local church involved

We all know it takes volunteers and additional support to pull off any youth event. But think beyond volunteer recruitment and start considering ways to involve and engage your congregation in the overall Famine experience. After all, it’s not just about what the youth can do to make a difference, but how the church as a whole can work together both during and after the event. Consider the following:

-How will your church learn/hear about what you’re doing? 

-How can your church support the youth before/during/after the event?

-How can your church play a role in the Famine experience and any follow-up? 

3. Community Impact – Learning about hunger in your local community

World Vision is a great resource for learning about hunger on a global level. But what about hunger on a local level? Every community has different issues and unique needs. Take the time to educate yourself about the needs and available resources in your local community. Your youth may have never considered how hunger reaches their classmates and community members, so this will help them better understand hunger on a more personal level. It also provides opportunities for your youth to serve and get involved. Partnering with local organizations during your event is a great way for your teens to serve and learn about hunger in their communities. Consider these questions when planning your event:

-Where does hunger exist in my community?

-What resources are available to meet the community needs, and what is missing? 

-How can we build relationships and continue serving after the event ends? 

4. Global Impact – Being a part of the change the world needs

Here is where things come full-circle and where a lot of the hard work has already been done for you. Yay! Use the resources available in your Famine kit and online to help your students grasp an understanding of hunger on a global level. These resources can help inspire and motivate your youth to raise money and learn how their involvement can create change worldwide. Global hunger will play a role in all aspects of your event; so don’t forget to consider the following:

-What and how will my group learn about world hunger before and during our event?

-Why is fundraising important and how will it help? 

-How can we provide continued support on a global level?  

Many of you may already use one or all of these components to guide your Famine planning, and that’s awesome! But by keeping all four components in mind throughout every aspect of planning, hopefully the impact will go beyond 30 hours and create lasting change on all levels. Teenagers want to make a difference, so let’s provide a solid platform for them to start.