This fall we’ve been trying out some new ideas with our fall youth ministry calendar (you can see the actual calendar here if you missed it a couple months ago). It is always tough to make adjustments when things are going well – the tendency is to settle in and keep doing whatever is working. So our motivation was to make things even better was not without risk – but it felt like it was the right time to pull the trigger.
Here’s some of the theory behind some of the changes we’ve made in HSM’s events and activities philosophy:
No More Events
This fall, we had one single event on the calendar for our students. PumpkinFest. Now, we planned for it to be big, we pushed it for weeks. This was not just the only event, it was going to be the one to be at! But other than that one event – you couldn’t find a budget-killing, overnight black hole of time and money planned for our youth group. While we’ve never been an event-driven student ministry – but this is a big change from a youth ministry based on the event to event hype machine from one big thing to the next.
So streamlining events and going for more effective has led us to this: more activities. Let me explain the distinction, because on first glance that might sound conflicting. Events take you out an extra night of the week, they take a ton of resources, they take a ton of manpower. Events are a ton of work, and most of the time, not enough return. Often times they’re effective in bringing a crowd, but have little effect on reaching people for Jesus Christ or much less even increasing the number of students attending regular services. Here’s where activities are different than events; they’re attached to an existing program. Activities are a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning. Activities are bingo nights with great prizes after after youth group or hanging out at Chic-Fil-A after small groups. Activities are easy, and fun, build community and hold hands more closely with the actual church.
I think there’s room for both in youth ministry, but I’m loving doing less events and more activities. Thoughts?