4 Ways to Prepare Your Youth Ministry for Fall

It’s August, which means we’re wrapping up summer and staring Fall straight in the face. Summer mission trips have wrapped up so now parents are asking you when the ski retreat is going to be and when weekly youth group is starting up. Hopefully you worked ahead and have all of this done already, but if you don’t, you might be panicking a bit!

For a youth minister, the fall is an exciting time when you get to see youth more regularly, and you can get back to the part of the work you love most – ministering! 

So all the extra stuff, like calendar coordinating, strategic planning, and event planning can seem more like obstacles than part of the job you love so much. So as you try to get through the next few weeks here are some things to think about that may help you in the future.

Plan your calendar far in advance

I have most of my calendar for the following academic year done by the preceding April. Honestly, I’d love to have it done sooner. Before you even head into summer, it’s so helpful for you to know which big events are on your calendar and when so you can get some of the big stuff done before you head on summer mission trips. Christmas party, winter retreat, Confirmation classes, etc. Get it all on there ASAP.

Of course this doesn’t help you now because it’s August – but you can at least get your spring calendar together by the time school is starting back up. Your summer schedule – well that should be locked down before the first of the year. This helps clergy, parents, kids, but mostly – yourself.

For a youth minister, the fall is an exciting time when you get to see youth more regularly, and you can get back to the part of the work you love most – ministering!

Send out a mailer

I know, mailers seem very old school – but let’s not dismiss something just because it is old school. Your church database, whatever that looks like, is a wealth of outreach opportunities. Everyone in the church should get something in the mail from you about what you have in store for the youth ministry. Make it pretty so it doesn’t just get tossed away, and make it meaningful. Answer these questions:

  • What is the youth ministry about (ideally this can be copied and pasted from you mission statement)?
  • Who is the youth ministry for? What does the youth ministry do?
  • What does it have to do with the church community as a whole?
  • How can people get in touch with you if they have more questions?

The letter makes it feel more personal. People enjoy getting mail when it’s not a bill or solicitation. Bonus points if it actually gets addressed to a youth by their name. If you are part of a large church, this letter doesn’t have to get sent to everyone – just those involving youth families.

I have a 6000-member church, and when you narrow it down to youth families alone, I’m still sending out over 400 letters. But if it’s a smaller church, I’d recommend sending it to everyone. It will help everyone feel like they are connected to the youth ministry.

Plan a kick-off event

If you’ve worked ahead, then by August you know what the year has in store for your church’s youth and a great way to communicate that is at a kick-off event. Ideally, this kick-off event invites youth and their parents to be in the same space and hear all about what the youth ministry of your church has to offer.

  • What are the weekly programs?
  • What special events do you have?
  • What opportunities do the youth of the church have for church leadership?
  • What opportunities do they have to serve the community?
  • If you have a budget, have food and drinks.

Do your best to make this event interactive. Have an icebreaker for everyone to do together before they sit down to hear about the coming year. Most important – be professional. The kids know you’re fun. You want the parents to know their kids are in good hands when they’re with you. A Power Point or other use of technology communicating your main points and events will go a long way to at least make it seem like you know what you’re doing.

Most important – be professional. The kids know you’re fun. You want the parents to know their kids are in good hands when they’re with you.

Pray

It seems obvious, right? But well, it’s not always. This is a crazy time for our youth. For our youth entering 6th grade or 9th grade, special meaning is added because these are milestone years in their development. Those milestones add to the already often anxiety-ridden time that is returning to school. They might not have it in them to take a moment to pray for themselves, but what a comfort to know you can.

When you see that kid on Sunday who you know almost didn’t complete their 8th grade year, won’t it be great to be telling the truth when you say, “Hey man, I know how hard you worked to get to 9th grade, and it seems a bit scary. I want you to know I prayed for you this week that you’ll have joy and peace.”

Put a note out on social media letting kids know that you’re taking prayer requests as we’re heading into school. Have them text you, then pray for their request, and then let them know what you prayed. Or find out when each of your kids goes back to school, and pray for them on that day. Few things feel better than knowing someone prayed for you in a moment of need.

Be blessed as you head into this new academic year. Make sure someone is praying for you as you walk beside these kids during their school year. And don’t forget to send us your best tips for preparing for fall!


About the Author: Rachael McNeal

rachael mcneal

Rachael McNeal currently lives in St. Augustine, while working as the Director of Youth Ministries at Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. She also has experience in Higher Education and Interfaith Activism. Rachael graduated from Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL where she studied Religion and Youth Ministry. She attended Princeton Theological Seminary where she received her Master of Divinity. She was featured on Interfaith Youth Core’s podcast Common Knowledge and has written for OnFaith, Interfaith Youth Core, Faith Line Protestants, Sojourners, and Huffington Post Religion.

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