It was part of the plan. What I intended to happen was supposed to happen!
My goal was to help lead students to follow Christ, but why were there so many distractions to the event? Have you ever made plans that didn't work out like you originally planned? Have you ever felt the pressure to pack your calendar with events along with your weekly ministry in order to make everyone happy? What is your strategic planning process? When you hear someone talk about planning, what is your response? Are you a planner or are you more of a "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" person?
No matter where you fall in the love or hate side of planning, it is a huge part of leadership.
I have learned that having a packed calendar does not mean that I’m filling students spiritually. The “American Dream” of student ministry is to keep the students “motivated” from one event to another. My prayer is that students will learn that their relationship with God is ENOUGH for them to grow spiritually. Events help in this process but are not the goal. Events can not build relationships and keep students strengthened through the “roller coaster” school years.
Leading a movement of students does not just happen out of thin air. It is a continual, focused plan that originates from the mission to rescue people from their sin and into an eternal relationship with God. Everything flows out of a strategic plan where everything is filtered through the question, "does this lead us to where God wants us to go?"
I usually think of events just like an island. We go to the island for different events each year. At the island we find that it is the "only place" where we see our lives changed and we build God into a box. We think that if we go to the island, then we will discover God.
My question is, "Why not expect God to change lives in our weekly ministries?!"
Stop using events as the engine for spiritual growth and instead use it as an onramp to your ministry every week.
Keep the Main Strategy THE strategy
I believe that if we poured more energy and time into our weekly ministries than a few big events per year, we would see growth. Why? Because we are always looking for the next big thing when we can often neglect the students we minister to weekly. What is the purpose of going from event to event without a clear purpose. If we are thinking that we need to go find energy somewhere besides our ministries, this might reveal the need to go back to the dry erase board and write the question, "what is the vision of this student ministry?" You might not be able to pull off a performance the scale of a huge event, but what simple steps can you take to strategically make your ministry more meaningful to reaching students?
Practical Examples of Planning
Be sure to plan wisely around specific times of the year. Use momentum in your planning around spring, summer and fall. What is the best time to plan a discipleship retreat? How important is the mission trip in the summer? Why do you need to plan an event or two each month?
What is the purpose of the plans? What would you like to see happen at the end of the event. Plan with the end in mind. Avoid the pitfall of student ministries who plan to fill up a calendar to simply "keep the kids busy so they stay out of trouble." Know the purpose of planning so that you are making the most of the time you have with students. A few times of the year that it helps to plan events is around school getting out, starting and before and after holidays.
Questions to ask to continue the conversation:
How important is vision to the process of strategic planning? What are the top 3 plans that have worked well for your student ministry? Why? What are the top 3 plans that were not successful? Why? Do you think that the family today needs more events or more meaningful ministry at church?