Student Ministry and the Calendar

If you are in Student Ministry then you are aware of something that most in the church do not give a great deal of thought to – the extensive calendar that affects your life.  As a student minister, your life and your ministry to a great extent revolve around a school and ministry calendar.
Appropriate ministry events or happenings are used to attract students, sustain momentum or generate anticipation and excitement on an entry-level. A well-done ministry event can also produce a huge spiritual impact and catapult students towards deepening discipleship in their life.
Too often though student ministries suffer from TWO extreme calendar mistakes. Either they have no calendaring strategy, very little on the calendar and consequently enjoy no traction towards a maturing, purposeful ministry event.  The other extreme is to fill a student ministry calendar so full that there is literally some sort of ministry event all the time. It’s like trying to put 50 lbs of cement in a 20lb bag.
Now those you who have read Simple Student Ministry by Eric Geiger and Jeff Borton may have adjusted your ministry towards the middle and become healthier in the process.
But there are many in student ministry who mistakenly applied an extreme version of Simple Student Ministry and slashed their ministry events so far back that the only students still attending are those ready for deepening discipleship or those who have no choice in their participation. A healthy youth ministry is has a leader who endeavors to create strategic fun and deepening discipleship within the same ministry.

The 336 Strategy

I want to share with you a brief but helpful strategy for calendaring your life and ministry.  Its called STRATEGY 336. The title simply reflects the number of months represented in each segment of the strategy.
It looks like this:
3 months = CONCRETE
3 months = TENTATIVE
6 months = SKELETAL
Now before we jump into that first let me share a few verses with you to help convince you that JESUS is honored in your planning efforts and smiles when you apply planning to His kingdom work. Now we know about the advance planning of Nehemiah and his advance planning and organization skills applied to rebuilding Jerusalem. We could stop there but. . . I Corinthians 14:33 tells us that “God is not a god of confusion
Luke 14:28-30 ask us to consider the truth of planning and organization saying “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. Proverbs 21:5
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. Prov. 24:27
So, strategic calendaring with purpose is practical and biblical.

The First Three Months

The first three months are CONCRETE! Just like it implies, these are 3 months of calendar that should never be deleted or dropped unless an emergency arises. In other words, they are “set” in concrete. The larger the church the more months that may be applied to each segment but for the sake of explanation lets just go with 3,3,6.
Three months CONCRETE = Name of Event or happening, the date is set, the purpose of the event is established, the specific target audience is determined, the cost is printed and the place booked. You know what programming is being planned and any speaker is booked and other elements set. Also if you use Lead Teams, A Lead Team coordinator and Lead Team members are already enlisted.

The Second Three Months

The second 3 mos are called Tentative! Just as it suggests, there a few ministry decision or elements that “in-process” they are TENTATIVE. During these three months of calendaring, you have most of the details but not all. The date is firm, your purpose is defined, and you know the approximate cost. At this stage, the location is being finalized, but you may only have an LTC and not a full Lead Team yet. Maybe you have a speaker or two as options and trying to settle it out. Or maybe you are looking at your budget to see if you will be able to book a guest speaker or band or what elements you can weave into the event. During this phase of calendaring, you have enlisted an LTC but not a full team. In other words, some things are concrete and some things are in-process or TENTATIVE.

The Last Six Months

The final segment is for six months. This is the SKELETAL period.  During these six months, you may only have a date and an idea. For example, you know you are going to camp and it is locked into the calendar but you don’t yet know where or what the theme is. During this period you may have a cost range or target price you will charge but that might change. You are busy establishing the major elements of the ministry event but the details are just in the planning stages.  You may not have an LTC yet but you are recruiting both an LTC and an LT to begin the work.
Remember, it takes longer to plan things the larger your group is. Because you may be coordinating a ministry calendar with several other ministries within the same church, you may need more time. So your 336 strategies maybe a 6-6-12 strategy.

Guiding Principles

There is no set standard but there are some principles that should guide your calendaring.
1st – Make sure you schedule your calendar with Purpose. There should not be anything on your ministry calendar that does not require a ministry to pull it off.
2nd Don’t over or under-do it. If you plan a lean or slim calendar it will be full by the end of the year. If you plan a packed calendar your leadership and you maybe pleading for relief by the end of the year. So plan lean, and execute well.
3rd. Don’t become a lone ranger! Involve people in the whole process and give the ministry away.
If you’d like to learn more about ways to positively impact your student ministry, make sure to take our Ministry Excellence Assessment and learn more about how to benefit your ministry!