September means it’s the start-up of a new season of ministry. For many of us, this is the most hectic and exciting time of the year. Because of the energy and stress that come from starting a new ministry year, September, more than any other month, can define our entire program.
As important as Fall events are, let’s keep it in perspective. What we seek to accomplish at this time of year must last beyond the season. What we’re launching can shape where we’ll be next year at this time. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions as you gear up for the big Fall push:
Embrace the truth that bigger isn’t necessarily better.
Often the first question is, “What did we do last year?” And we assume that this year’s events must be even better than last year’s. Keep in mind that your program start-up events can’t get bigger each year—and last year probably wasn’t as huge as you remember it.
Avoid the bait and switch.
The problem with some events is that new kids get the impression that youth group meetings always are parties with rock bands and free food. When they return and see people sitting in circles discussing the Bible, they’ll think they’ve come to the wrong place.
Don’t put all your energy into one event, leaving nothing for what comes next.
Kickoffs, events, and trips usually have a big workup, followed by a big letdown. Yet the time after an event is often a portal to helping kids connect with what’s next. Start-of-the-year events might grab teenagers’ attention, but they don’t have enough power to keep them around.
Begin with something that has the potential to be lasting.
Offer friendships, honest conversations, listening adults, a safe place for kids to be themselves, prayer, and a compelling picture of God’s Word demonstrated through actions. Read more about creating a transformational environment in your ministry, right here: https://youthministry.com/?p=59579&preview=true
Practice missional ministry – plan this Fall with next year in mind.
Set yourself up to continue the journey, rather than merely re-creating the prior year. That changes the way you evaluate a successful event or kickoff season and keeps you from focusing on numbers or gimmicks. May this Fall’s ministry inform and bless next Fall! May the kids you minister to this year be around next year, too—not because of your killer start-up event but because you were faithful in what you delivered this semester, next semester, and all year long.
By Dave Livermore and Steve Argue