General Ministry
Josh Griffin

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.

More Activities
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.

Invite teenagers into an epic adventure with Jesus. Check out Pierced: The New Testament today!

I think there’s room for both in youth ministry, but I’m loving doing less events and more activities. Thoughts?


How service-minded are your teenagers? Take this short quiz to find out!


  • Jheezy says:

    We stopped doing big events that took all the resources you commented on a few years back and moved to the activities and leader involvement strategy because of the same reasons you mentioned. I doubt we’ll ever go back, but SM has it’s ebbs and flows like everything else.

    PS… our volunteers love it too! Because of this we’re going to get them in on the activities as well… let them own all of the ideas.

  • Nikomas says:

    We’re trying out a similar strategy this year as well. We’re doing 3 big events during the year (Spring, Summer, Fall)…it’s a discipleship event, an worship event, and a serving event.

    We cut all the other events (new years eve, superbowl, graduations, concerts, etc). But we are encouraging our small group leaders to use one or two of those events per semester as a fellowship or outreach event for their small group. We’ve even given our leaders planning tools and a small budget so they can plan their activities. I’m not sure how well this will work out yet, it’s our first year doing it, but it has lots of potential!

    • John Thomas says:

      Hello I know this is a late reply, and I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what exactly did you do for your 3 big events?

  • David Flucke says:

    I did it this way 35+ years ago as new pastor. The youth would stay after their youth group meeting – we would play euchre, or go to a movie, or go to a truck stop for a late supper. 8 of those 10 are still involved in their churches. I just did it not knowing anything else to do. You are really on to something! God be with you!

  • Terrace Crawford says:

    Agreed. Most youth workers I speak to see little return on events as well. I think activities are the way to go.


  • Gabe says:

    I love it. by doing less big events, it makes is so that the kids don’t base their spiritual lives/growth on events. in “big church” there are no retreats or D-Nows every three months, but that’s how we teach them to grow in their fatih.

  • Jason says:

    We have also decided to be more strategic and purposeful about events. We have been able to cut out a few from the past that took so much time and effort from the adult staff, and are now giving over leadership and planning to the teen leaders for coming up with activities. Once they have ownership over something, It really takes off!! And it is usually less exhaustive on the budget since most of what they want to do is relational and not pushed by having a Huge Ticket Draw.

  • Jeff says:

    we are in the middle of making this shift out of a change of mentality from a smaller youth ministry to a larger ministry. We have found that it has helped our volunteers focus on their “group” and not to worry about knowing everyone in the bigger group. Our mid-week crowd event has grown from 25-50 and this thinking shift has been necessary. part of the “Activities” aspect we are using is to pour the energy and resources we would have put into a friday event into making our mid-week service higher energy, and more attractive to invite friends to. It seems to be working on Wednesday nights but are still pulling the last events off the calendar. Glad to see so many others making the same realization and programming adjustment.

  • […] fall has natural momentum with the launch of small groups and the launch of our weekend services. Fun after-service events have been way more effective than separate night our events. We are an evangelistic-leaning ministry (trying to balance the biblical purposes). If you know […]

  • Ole says:

    We have been doing something similar for a while. Our budget has been pretty much non-existant since I began at my church. This means organizing big events takes a lot more work and there is always a cost for students. I hate to have the parents put out a bunch of cash on tight budgets so we did less big events and got more creative. We do all girls dance central dance off sleep overs, video game all nighters, find hills to skate down, go swimming, zombie tag, do midnight nerf wars dressed as ninjas etc. These are smaller groups so there is great fellowship that is hard to get with bigger events where the whole youth group turns out. Using things we already have has helped a lot as well. We took stock of what we already had at our disposal. for example: Big building+puzzle mats+kids into nerf= Huge nerf battle royal with big structures built of puzzle mats. It was super fun. The little activities can be run by anyone on the youth team so there can be all types and they happen often. Great way to spend time with our kids.

  • Leave a Comment

    Please keep in mind that comments are moderated and rel="nofollow" is in use. So, please do not use a spammy keyword or a domain as your name, or it will be deleted. Let us have a personal and meaningful conversation instead.