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As our ministries grow, it becomes natural that our special events and activities grow, too. More students equals bigger events, bigger budgets, more planning, more medical forms, more vans to rent, more volunteers to recruit, more … well just about more everything! While this is all a natural part of a growing junior high ministry, I think it’s easy to begin thinking that we have to keep doing bigger, better events. The ministry I lead is a good example. Over the past five years or so, our ministry has continually grown and, as a result, our special events became more and more elaborate.

We’ve rented water parks for private parties, chartered dozens of buses for all nighters, and brought in professional skate boarders and motocross riders. You name it, we’ve done it and we’ve done it well. About a year ago we took an honest look at all these events and asked ourselves an honest question: What fruit have these events had on our ministry? To be fair there was some measurable fruit but not nearly enough to warrant the time, money and energy it took to make these events a regular part of our ministry. Our response was to create a new philosophy of “Cheap and Easy” events. We still do a big event now and then, but the VAST majority of our events are now what we consider cheap and easy events. By cheap we simply mean low budget activities that cost us little to put together and cost little or nothing for students to attend. By easy we simply mean that they don’t require a ton of our time to plan and are easy for students to attend (they can just show up instead of signing up ahead of time).

Here’s how our summer is different this year because of our new “Cheap and Easy” philosophy:

We cancelled our big trip to an amusement park and replaced it with several fun days at a local park. Instead of signing up ahead of time so we could charter buses and paying $50.00 for a day at the amusement park, students simply meet us at a local park for football, Frisbee and other games.

Cheap and easy!

Instead of chartering busses for an Angel’s game, we decided to sell tickets to families and ask the families to meet us at the stadium. An event that used to be a headache (how many buses will we need?) has now become super easy and more affordable.

We added a shorter, less expensive summer camp alternative for families who can’t afford a six day camp.

We created a weekly event called “Meet Us” where students simply meet us at the mall, the skate park, a swimming pool, etc.

If your junior high ministry is more than a couple dozen students, you have likely felt the pressure to do more events and to make them bigger and better than the last. As a recovering “big event addict”, let me encourage you to avoid falling into the trap that says bigger is better. At their core, junior high students crave a fun, safe experience that fosters healthy relationships. My experience has taught me that the events that do the best job of meeting that goal are the ones that are Cheap and Easy.

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