Better Planning for a Better Fall

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Weird right?

Yet we often do exactly that! If you want to have a better fall, now is the time to plan to make the most of each moment. Here are a few enhancements that you can make to your planning that will help your group to do better in the fall.

Get Better Buy In

Include your leaders in your plan. Even if you aren’t making big changes to your programs or your events its amazing how minds change when they are part of the planning process. Leaders will be:

  1. more invested
  2. more aware
  3. more enthusiastic
  4. more responsible
  5. more committed

The reason some leaders “just show up” is because they don’t feel ownership of the year plan. Get as many on board as early as possible. Let them help shape the youth ministry. You will see a big difference in commitment to the vision of the ministry.

Set Up Better Connections

Face it –we need a better connection between our fun nights and our teaching nights. A better integrated plan yields better results. Students come back and, if we do things right, they stay long enough to be impacted by the Gospel!

Consider this: if you get 100 students out to your kick off what incentives do you have to get them back the week after?

Here are a few ideas to get them to return after an event:

  1. take video and show on next night
  2. have a contest at the event give out prizes at next event
  3. connect students with a leader at the event. Leader contacts them during the week

Not only that, but think of ways to build stronger connections between your teaching and activities so that you deepen students’ learning. You could teach on serving and provide opportunities for youth to serve in the school, church, or the community. This will never happen if you are working on your teaching week to week.

Prepare for Better Follow Up

Doesn’t it drive you crazy when a student stops attending and no one knows why? Likely its because they never connected with a leader or other students. Get a head start on this during the summer to find out which leaders are coming back and which students they are connected to.

–If you have to, draw out a visual connecting leaders with students. Who was left out? When you know who is going to be without a leader in the fall you can have someone in place in August and already contacting them before the kick off night!

Start Doing Better Promo

Yeah, it sounds like marketing but the purpose is getting more students to your group and creating interest among your own students.–not so that you can brag about the numbers but so that you can impact more students with God’s love!

You’re probably publishing a monthly calendar, posting it on a web page, making Face Book events, and sending imessage blasts to all of your students but are you capitalizing on word of mouth? The best advertising is word of mouth. Here are a few ideas to get your students talking about your club or youth group.

  1. try a contest if you aren’t already doing this
  2. have a gift for a student and their new friend
  3. have students leaders call each of their friends
  4. have adult leaders be part of a phone blitz
  5. send students a photo that they can post on their Instagram

Establish communication processes

When I get busy I stop communicating. To avoid this terrible behavior I try to set up systems that work for me before I get busy. For example it isn’t too difficult to do a month of birthday cards at the start of the month. It is less than an hour’s work. Hand deliver it to a student on the week of their birthday at small group or a youth event.

If you don’t have office or admin help for the fall get it in place now. I had a student work an hour for me twice a week after school. She did a great job contacting students and a bunch of little admin tasks that I’d put aside for her for the afternoon she would be in. It was a great system!

What about a follow up process for new students? Do you have one of these in place. Here’s one that a number of groups use:

  1. all student information is received when they attend an event, small group, or large gathering
  2. the student is informed that they will be contacted by an adult leader or you on a specific day next week.
  3. contact is made and the student is given information about the group and an invitation to the next meeting
  4. the student is met by the adult leader when they attend the next time.

You can develop communication processes for getting prayer requests to your prayer supporters, for contacting your student and adult leaders, or for getting information to the parents.

One more thing. Evaluate how well you communicated with parents and got them more involved in discipling their teens. Plan for multiple ways to connect with parents throughout the year. Even a little more involvement from parents in the spiritual development of their sons and daughters makes a huge difference!

Did I miss anything?

This covers a lot of ground but if I’ve missed something please let the rest of the readers know by leaving a comment.

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Ron Powell

ronpowell

Ron Powell is the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com

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