Tag Archives: Event Planning

How to Prepare a Youth Event Calendar in 3 Easy Steps

Preparing for next year’s event calendar, for me, is one of the most exciting planning experiences. The look of the fresh, blank calendar canvas…It’s a thing of beauty. To think, with the guidance of God through the process, you will get to plan out next year’s events. These are events where teens may get saved, hearts will be changed, and hopefully grows your ministry to reach your community for Jesus Christ. How does that not get your blood pumping?

So how is it done? Below are 3 easy steps that will allow your event planning to go a little smoother this year…

  1. Event Survey. A few years back, I decided to involve the students in the planning process (Novel idea, involving the students in planning the events that are for THEM!!). The survey gives the students a voice in what the events they enjoyed, and the ones only their youth pastor thought was a good idea. You will need a plate, fork, and napkin ready. Why? Because you will be eating a little bit of humble pie as you see some of the events did not turn out well. But the reward of seeing your teens express their appreciation for other events will rejuvenate you in your planning process.
  2. Leader Planning Meeting – Set aside a monthly planning meeting that is a tradition of sorts for your leaders. There are typically two types of yearly planning meetings. Summer meetings to plan out the school year calendar, and a yearly calendar beginning in January. For us, it is so difficult to plan during the summer, it is just too crazy. So we have our BIG planning meeting in October to provide time to plan out dates and details before January comes rolling around.  Allow this to be a time where you define your purposes of events, evaluate past and future events, and get on the same page for the coming year.  This meeting allows our team to really draw closer together and forge ahead united, and excited for what’s coming.  Then, throughout the year we have meetings to follow up and plan in more detail.
  3. Balance – Keep this word in mind as you plan for a number of reasons. Financially, you need to make sure your events are not all costly, and spread out the free or low cost events throughout the year. Your parents will appreciate this intentionality. Also, think about the spiritual purpose of these events. Keep a balance of evangelistic, spiritually challenging/enriching, and service events. To keep our ministry balanced, we schedule a service project each month and spread out the evangelistic and spiritually challenging throughout the year.

Scenario-Planning-2-Image1What about you?  What do you do in your planning that allows your events to be successful?  Feel free to comment below.

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Ideas For Graduate Recognition or Senior Night

As I mentioned last week, Senior Nights have their benefits.  And one of the greatest things about planning these events is the sky is the limit.  Typically, I try to plan the event around personality of the people graduating.  If it is a more outgoing group, I would try to get them more involved during the presentation.  For the introverted group, I would make it more low-key and enjoyable for them.  Regardless, I do my best on a reasonable budget, to make this night unforgettable and truly memorable for the senior and their families.  Here are a few ideas…Senior Night 2012

A Night at the Oscars. This took some prep work in our event planning. The month prior to senior night we had a video contest, where students would get together and produce their own short film. Little did the seniors know, this would play into their Senior Night. At the Senior Night, awards were given from those films such as best actor/actress, best film, best cinematography, etc. Oscars were made from gold paper (I still have mine in my window sill of my office.

The night was just like the Oscar night. Each senior was picked up from a designated area in a convertible donated by someone in the church. We pulled out the red carpet for our seniors to enter. The entire church was waiting for the seniors as the pulled in one-by-one. Each senior was interviewed in from of the church and cheered and celebrated.

The schedule began with an opening monologue, Oscar awards, band performance, video of seniors pictures given by parents, and time of prayer. The night also included a brief devotional by our lead pastor.Senior Night JPEG

Olympic Ceremony. Just like the Oscars, this took advance planning as well. Medals can be made or bought at a local party supply store. These medals were given in a special ceremony for each Olympic event the month prior.

A special host is needed for this event. In this case, I was Bob Hope. You can be creative with this. Other parts of the program included a live band performance, Gospel presentation, charge to seniors and families, video presentation of pictures of graduates growing up, commercials, and an unforgettable skit.MSM AWARDS

Awards Night. Again, needed a prior event for this senior night to work. So, we had a talent show the month before to allow for awards to be given. Awards were based on that particular night.  The creativity comes into play on this part of the night where you try to come up with as many categories as you can to give out as many awards as you can.

Schedule included recorded testimonies of lessons learned from the seniors, red carpet entrance and interviews, monologues for presenters, memory/picture video of seniors, and special guest host.Presentation

Price is Right. We really outdid ourselves this year. Set design, logos, name tags, host scripts, items up for bids, prizes to be won, cars given away (matchbox, of course…what budget do you think I have?), and much more. It was incredible.

Again, we invited the church. But this time, they were the audience helping each contestant. There was only 2 seniors this year, so they were the 1st two contestants called. We had 4 games ready to play (can be found here), and the seniors each played the game, along with two other contestants. We had a digital wheel to spin. And even a showcase showdown!

The night began with a devotional, and then the worship center turned into the set of the Price is Right. The whole audience had a blast, and it was a very memorable night for our seniors and their families.

It did take a tremendous effort from our leaders who designed the set, got sound effects for the show, helped the students design t-shirts, gathered prizes, and the list goes on and on.

Keys to Remember:

  • Always involve the church. Whether it is at the arrival of the seniors or as audience members…invite the church to be part of this experience. This is very important.
  • Planning – make sure parents/families are given advance notice so they can be a part of the special night.
  • Involve the younger students in the planning process – give them assignments with decorations, food prep, or parts in the program.
  • Gathering Time – After the event, gather the seniors and their families along with the rest of the youth ministry and get some pizzas and play some games to round out the night. Does not have to be long, but will help bring everything to a good end.
  • If possible – keep the theme a secret from the seniors. It adds to the anticipation in the days prior to the event for the graduations.

What are some of your senior celebration ideas?

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5 Reasons to Host a Senior Night Celebration in Your Youth Ministry

Senior night celebrations are special in many ways.  If you think it does not have an impact on the graduating seniors…think again.  Here are just a few good results of a well planned senior night celebration.Presentation

  1. Appreciation & Care. Show the seniors you love them, care about them, and are not going to forget about them when they leave the youth ministry. Shower them with thoughtful gifts like cards signed by the entire student ministry. Books that will have an impact on this stage of their life (examples: Just Do Something or Dear Graduate). And it doesn’t hurt to throw a gift certificate in there like iTunes or Chipotle.
  2. Easing the Transition. These seniors have been with you for 6-7 years, so this is not an easy transition for them. So make it easier on them. Invite the young adult ministry to the senior night celebration. Put them in an adult or young adult small group before they exit youth ministry to ease into the transition. Set apart certain times where they visit adult programs and classes before graduation. We are losing way too many seniors after graduation from the church. We need to do a better job in transitioning them into the life of the church. (By the way, this should happen from when they are in children’s ministry, but I’m talking about specifically seniors right now)
  3. Celebrate Good Times, Come on! Make it a celebration. Next week, I will give some ideas of some senior nights we have done in the past. And let me tell you, these are some of my favorite nights in youth ministry. Memorable, fun, impactful and purposeful nights that students, parents, and families have enjoyed.
  4. Honoring One Another. Senior Celebrations also allow the other students to honor the graduates. Each year I have the seniors give at least one lesson they have learned over the years to pass along to the younger students. Many have encouraged the younger students to attend certain events, or take advantage of certain things, and others have given powerful lessons they have learned along the way.
  5. Great Ending. What makes a movie, book, or story memorable…well, it’s a good ending, of course. Same for your graduates. Allow the seniors to have a lasting memory of how things ended, leaving with a sweet taste and an eagerness to continue serving and being a part of the local church.
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2015 Youth Ministry Goals

As the saying goes, “if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  It’s a saying that goes through my mind during this time of year.  Sure, God can re-direct, and we should always be willing to change our plans according to his direction.  But it is also wise to plan ahead and cast vision for the upcoming year.  Below are 8 goals that I have set for my 2015 ministry year…hoping they can provide you some inspiration as well.  Feel free to comment below with some of your goals!

2014-15

2015 Goals:

  • WIN Event—Continue to broaden worldview of students by teaching students the needs of the world. Also, provide an interactive learning experience where they research the world needs on their own.
  • Co-Mission Expansion—Collaborate with other youth pastors to plan a mission project or allow students to form community projects together.
  • New Events—These new events for students include CedarMania and a trip to the Creation Museum.
  • Community Reach—Continue the reach into community by working with a local school in a summer mission project.
  • Junior High Ministry—Continue to expand Junior High Ministry into more than Sunday School, but provide events just for Junior High.
  • Informal Hangout—This is a common request from teens. Add another “Hangtime”, and pursue opportunities to hang out with teens outside of church.
  • Student Led Mission Trip—Provide an opportunity for leadership students to lead a mission project over the summer.
  • Internship Track—Begin to develop ideas for future interns such as reading material, assignments, and training.

 

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Teen Culture Survey

At each major event, I like to require a registration card for some sort of give-a-way.  Attached to the registration card, is a short little survey to help gauge teen culture.  Here an example:

Which one is better?register

(Circle Answer)

 Drink:    Pop     Energy Drink     Water

FREE:  Shopping Spree at Favorite Store    OR

 Concert Tickets to Favorite Band

 Dislike More:    School      Chores     Miley Cyrus

For those that are curious, here’s the results of the survey:

#1 Drink of Choice:  Pop (or Soda for my East Coast Friends) – kinda surprised energy drinks only got 1 vote.

Would rather have a Shopping Spree at Favorite Store…although malls are going down in attendance.

Dislike More:  Tie between School & Miley Cyrus!  No comment.

 

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Top 10 Youth or Student Ministry Books

Here are a few that I would recommend (put in order of my favorites):

  1. Family Based Youth Ministryby Mark DeVries (My youth pastor growing up had me read this.  It redefined for me the role of the youth pastor, and my philosophy was forever changed.)
  2. The Greenhouse Projectby Mel Walker & Mike Calhoun (A collection of writings from some of my favorite people in youth ministry)
  3. Youth Ministry Management Tools (This book is awesome as a resource.  Not for simple reading, but will help you with administration – planning events, budget, team-building, etc.)
  4. Purpose Driven Youth Ministryby Doug Fields (Classic that reshaped youth ministry to what it is today, in a good way)
  5. Shaping the Spiritual Life of Studentsby Richard Dunn (One of the first youth ministry books I read, and loved the insight of walking along students in their lives)
  6. Pushing the Limitsby Mel Walker
  7. Sustainable Youth Ministryby Mark DeVries (One of my prayers is longevity in ministry, this book will help)
  8. ReThinkby Steve Wright
  9. Controlled Chaosby Kurt Johnston (Jr. High ministry, could you tell by the title?)
  10. 4 Hour Youth Ministryby Timothy Eldred (Want to get more efficient, or your teens more involved, here ya go)

Honorary Mention:  You Lost Me by David Kinnaman; Already Gone by Ken Ham

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5 Tips For Planning Your Event Calendar – What the students told me!

Here’s an idea for planning your student ministry events…ask the students!  What a novel concept.  Why didn’t I think of this sooner!

So that’s what I did.  I wrote out all the events and service projects (including mission trip and children ministry events we served in) and put them in a survey.  I had the students rank the events from 5 (awesomest) to 1 (never, ever, do that again).  And let me tell you, if pictures speak 1,000 words, surveys got to speak at least 124 words.  Lots of interesting thoughts came that will help your event planning tremendously.

  1. Don’t Assume.  Don’t assume since you thought you rocked out an event that all the students feel the same way.  The one event I thought was the most amazing event I have ever was ranked in the lower half of the events.  Shocking.
  2. Pump up the volume.  I’ve realized that according to the scores, it is important to pump up the excitement and importance of a service project.  Most of the service projects were ranked low, could be because teenagers typically like to have fun more than get their hands dirty…but I’d like to take some responsibility on this one as well.
  3. Summer Down.  This summer I toned down the summer events and focused more on leadership conferences & mission trip.  Why, well if you look at the numbers, it proves that summer events are just now well attended.  So you won’t see my summer filled with day and weekend events.  It is more informal and specific life-changing trips that I focus on in the summer, and the numbers don’t lie that it is the right way to go.
  4. Time to March on.  March had my bottom two rated events.  Be careful to not schedule two potential duds on the same month.  Both the service project & event (we do a service project & event every month, you should try it!) bombed…not good for momentum.  Maybe pair a risk with a known commodity to make sure you don’t do this blunder like I did.
  5. No clones, just improvements.  Here’s something to remember.  Be wise (pray for this!) about what events you think had a low number because they need improvement and what was low because they are stinkers.  Don’t be afraid to cut, but don’t be afraid to cut for surgery repair either.  Also, don’t make a clone event list like last year.  Maybe take a high rated event away so you don’t repeat and have them lose interest.  Your calendar cannot be a clone of last year’s or apathy will reign.

 

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