August and September are back to school months for most students across the country. And while teenagers are way past learning their ABC's, youth workers should keep this little acronym in mind as a guide for successful year-long planning. Here's how to let the "ABC's" be your guide to planning your ministry calendar:
A is for ASK--Too often some of the scheduling problems we find ourselves in could have been avoided if we had simply asked questions ahead of time. Start asking students and parents what big events are on tap for the school year, questions like:
- When are the athletic events scheduled? And when are playoffs for the various sports?
- Will the band be going on any long trips, or are there any competitions they will attend?
- When will the ACT be given?
- Will the drama or choral departments be performing any time during the year?
- When are the holidays for each school?
These are just a few of the questions you need to be asking before planning youth ministry events for the year. Knowing these dates can also be a big help when making decisions about attending school functions involving your students. A student seeing you at an event can go a long way in developing quality relationships in student ministry.
B is for Booking--Late summer is the perfect time to book such things as buses, hotel rooms, camp dates, equipment for special fellowships, tickets for events, etc. If you do a D-Now weekend, consider securing commitments from host homes early. Trust me, I have been caught many times not being able to stay in a certain place or even being able to pull off an event because I did not book something far enough ahead of time. Once in my early days I had to put our students in a hotel 50 miles away from weekend retreat venue just because I waited too late to book a place to stay.
C is for Calendar--Get a calendar and get it out NOW! Then start planning all your events for the next twelve months. Be sure to put school events and other church events on your calendar. How about putting the birthdays of all your students on your calendar, too? Once you have a "big picture" view, line up some time to show your calendar to your pastor and other staff members to make sure your events or other initiatives don't conflict with a church event. I may be a little (or a lot) OCD but I keep four calendars - my big thick one for staff meetings, a monthly one on my desk, a small one for ministry mileage, and one on my cell phone! Once I was on a bus with 50 students heading to Atlanta to see the Braves play and a high school girl yelled out, "Hey Richard, did you check to make sure the Braves are in town?" The answer to that question was, "yes." Nine months earlier I had followed the ABC's of planning. Good planning really is as simple as ABC.
- What are your thoughts on planning? What difficulties do you encounter? What tips do you have that makes it easier?