5 Tips For Planning Meaningful Events This School Year

Posted on by Heidi Brunsting

By Andy Blanks, co-founder of youthministry360

Events are an essential part of most youth ministries. Whether it’s a Fall retreat, a Disciple Now Weekend, or just a mid-week color war, most youth ministry calendars have an event or two on them. Events are a great way to build memories, create a relatively safe way for students to try your ministry out, and are just good fun.

But here’s the question: is it enough to just have fun? Or do we need to set the bar higher for our events?

First things first: I’m no fun Grinch. I think you that ministry should be fun. We work with teenagers, after all. Some of the most fun I’ve had in the past 15 years has been doing youth ministry.

There is a place for fun. But fun is not enough. If the only thing your events accomplish is entertaining your students, you’re wasting a ton of your time and energy.

It is possible to plan events that are both a lot of fun, and packed with life-changing meaning. Here’s how.

FIRST, the Gospel has to be present. I know that there are some youth workers who will do “no strings attached” events where, in order to not alienate first time, non-believers, they will offer no mention of the Gospel (or any spiritual content). While I understand the logic behind this, I respectfully disagree. To make sure our events have meaning, we have to carve out space to communicate the Gospel to our students. It’s that simple.

SECOND, you have to create moments for intentional relational interaction between students and key adults. If all the adults are in the back of the room, or on the sidelines, you’re missing key moments to create some awesome shared experiences between students and adults. Plan your events in a way that includes adults in the fun.

THIRD, as much as you can, build in time for students to process what they’re experiencing. In our good-natured quest for max fun, we can schedule wall-to-wall activities. Instead, include some down time, or small group time, where students are allowed to reflect on what they’ve done or learned.

FOURTH, mix service with recreation. You can do both. I’ve seen it many times. Students appreciate the fun after serving, and vice-versa.

FIFTH, consider creating space to allow students to share what Christ is doing in and through them. Or where God is convicting them. Or where they feel called to plug in. Having an organic, student lead element is super-empowering to other teenagers.


It doesn’t take much more planning to inject meaning into your events. And the payoff is huge. Possibly even eternal.

This article originally appeared on youthministry360.com and is being republished by permission.

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