I few years ago, a youth pastor shared this phrase with me: October is the new September.
This is probably not the case in all settings, but it is a reality in many of our CRC youth ministries. Perhaps your church is one of the many who adopted this rule and if you are, I would love to hear why. I could guess, but your own story is much more interesting to me. (In the comments section, please feel free to share them!)
No matter when you begin your ministry season, it is always most excellent to use a few tried and true methods to help your church start off on the start note.
From the Faith Formation Ministries top ten ways category, let me share a few of my favorites from the “Top Ten Ways to Build a Stronger Youth Ministry.”
- Pray Early and Often. Youth ministry cannot succeed without being in the will of God. Bathe your youth ministry in prayer daily. Ask that it be included in the congregational prayer on Sundays. Develop a prayer calendar for yourself, praying through the specific needs of your leadership and teens. Be intentional in prayer. Do not let it become something you do only when you think you have time; make time!
- Build a Detailed Calendar. In order to have a successful season of youth ministry, it is vital to develop a strategic calendar of events, teaching dates, outings, and so on, so that your leadership team, the youth, and their parents will all be on the same page and can plan their weeks accordingly. When there isn’t a clear path to follow and direction for the year, chaos can and will happen.
- Develop a Strong Youth Leadership Team. Your best resource in youth ministry is the youth themselves. They are the ones who know the struggles teenagers are living with and the joys they experience daily. Use this to your advantage! Find youth who have shown leadership skills and invite them to help plan a youth group evening; and older youth to mentor younger youth; ask youth for input on study topics, social events, and outreach. Your youth program is a great place to start developing leadership skills in young people and equipping them to be disciples—and doing so will also help build their faith!
As I do ministry, prayer is as necessary as the air I breathe. It must become part of our ministry DNA. Without it, we default to a place of personal agendas and that is NOT a helpful place to lead from.
Doing ministry without a plan (of course we always need space for the Holy Spirit) is impossible to do well. Leaders and youth will feel lost without direction and purpose. Parents will not be able to schedule well without your calendar. Be clear and communicate the dates and plans well!
Discipleship is core to youth ministry. Whether you take a formal or informal approach to developing youth leadership, it must be central to our call as youth leaders.
So, what about you? What have you found vital to kicking off your season, whether in September or October?