A few years ago we had a group of students from the church down the road attending our ministry regularly. They were encouraged to attend their church’s student ministry, but they kept coming to ours. I asked them why they kept coming back, waiting for some ego-centric answer like, “the worship”, “the great preaching”, “your awesome style in clothing.” The answer was much simpler: “Here we know what’s going on.”
We live in a society that is incredibly taxed for time. There is no margin for changes, problems, even slow moving traffic, people have booked themselves solid. Unfortunately too often in the church we don’t do a great job of planning ahead. The number one complaint I hear about church Web sites is the calendar is out of date. We sent out the monthly newsletter a week before the first of the month. The problem is students in our ministries have their sports and band schedules for the next four months and their parents are booking vacations for next year.
As hard as it is, we need to be looking out as far as possible. It doesn’t mean the calendar is set in stone, but we need to be doing what we can to help students and parents make our ministries a priority. One thing we have found helpful is the school calendar. Our school district has the current and next school years on their Web site. It’s a great point of reference to start with, seeing when breaks and holidays are (the times when most of our students will be out of town). From there we can make a basic calendar of when our weekly events are cancelled and when our big events take place.
It can be painful, but God is a planner. Look at how much prophecy is in there! I grew up in a church that preached doing things last minute to be “open to the Spirit.” The more I read my Bible, the more I disagree with that: God has it all planned out; we can jump on board any time we want. Let’s do what we can to involve our students in that plan and give them what they need to schedule their time so God isn’t an afterthought for what’s left over, but in front where he should be.