A few weeks ago we put on our first large event youth service in our community. This was a big event we had planned for weeks. God blessed that night; we had a huge turnout of youth from the community and a large number of students entered into a saving relationship with Christ. The students lead in worship, we had a guest Gospel Go-Go Band (it's a DC thing, lol), and both the students and adults are excited about the next one. I've now been a part of the planning and implementing three different large event youth services since I've been in youth ministry. While each is definitely different, there are some similarities. I have learned many lessons along the way. But I've highlighted three in order to keep this post short. Here are three tips I've learned about planning and executing large youth events.
You Can't Do It Alone
I've learned that team is important. But not just for today. If possible, enlist enough people to cover what you need now and what you'll need in the future. I have a list of over 150 different tasks associated with putting on a large event. And with each large event I do, the more adult volunteers I have, the better. It's a challenge. Volunteers need to be screened and trained. You need to be willing to help them grow as they serve with you in ministry. But if you're going to execute an effective large youth event, it's essential.
You Can't Copy What You've Done In The Past
Each large event youth service I've done has looked different from the others simply because I was in a different area. The event I did in Baltimore was different from the one I did in Florida and both are a little different from the one I'm doing now in Silver Spring, Maryland. If you try to copy something that you've seen or heard of in another town or State, it might not work. The teenagers in your area may have specific needs or cultural considerations. It's your job as the ministry leader to meet those needs. You know your students. And you know the importance of leading them closer to Christ. Craft an experience that works for your group.
You Can't Do One Event At A Time
To be effective, you have to be planning your next gathering before you've even completed the current one. Currently our team has the theme and focus for each service from now through February 2012. Planning is huge. Also when planning you need to have a process for helping students connect with Christ, those that come for salvation, to rededicate their lives to Christ, and/or join the ministry. You need to have a process for them beyond just praying with them on that night. How do you get them to understand what they just did? How do you get them plugged in to your church (or another) to further develop their faith? I've found if you aren't planning ahead, you'll miss valuable ministry opportunities.
So there's my three.