In the myriad of traditions and expectations when it comes to a wedding, the “Save the Date” card is in my opinion the BEST! When somebody is getting married they almost always have the date planned out well in advance so why not tell everyone they want to invite to the wedding to “Save the Date”. No registry, no reception details and often no RSVP needed at this point, just a courtesy from the couple-to-be so you can make sure to mark the special day that you want to be a part of.
We’ve adopted the same helpful step of planning in GSM (Granger Student Ministries) where we get our largest events of the year planned out and get a “Save the Date” card prepared and in the hands of families before Christmas for all of the next year’s biggest events. Summer camp, retreats and mission trips all get on our calendar and we share that info with families so they can “save the date”. There are no prices listed, no packing lists and registration isn’t even open yet, but families can make sure to mark the calendar for the experiences their students want to be a part of.
When I was in my mid-20’s as a youth pastor I couldn’t imagine anybody planning their life for the next summer before Christmas, but I’ve learned some things the hard way so believe me when I say the families you serve are planning that far out! Parents are planning vacations, driver’s ed classes, summer school, sports camps and if you’re late to the table with dates for your biggest student events you may be missing out on students who would have come if they had known dates to plan for. Here are some other benefits I’ve found for doing “Save the Date” cards in our ministry;
- It can build some excitement and momentum in your ministry midway through the school year.
- It honors the parents you serve by not only being able to plan their calendar but to also plan financially for when bigger events are.
- It prevents parents from being the bad guys with their student when they’ve already booked a family trip during a big student event they didn’t know about.
- It forces us as youth pastors to think and plan ahead which allows us to stay on top of details, provides more time for creativity, and honestly it gives parents a boost of confidence and trust in us.
- And as an added bonus, if you’re in a colder climate (like myself) it gives you a chance to day dream about summer camp when you’re staring down snow in the forecast!
As families get busier and have more options vying for their time, “Save the Date” has become a helpful tool for our families and greatly increases the chance for students to get to one of the life changing events like summer camp or a mission trip. And if you’re not able to lock things up for the entire next year this month, don’t get discouraged! Get started with what you can (a quarter, a semester) and start getting in the rhythm of getting big picture events planned further out!
John Keim has served in student ministry for over 12 years at Granger Community Church (GCC) in Granger, IN. As the pastor of student ministries, he oversees all initiatives and teams to reach 6th-12th grade students and help them take their next steps toward Christ together. A unique part of John’s story is that he is leading in the church that he started attending as a 6th grade student and counts it a huge blessing to lead the student ministry that radically changed his life. Equally awesome for John is that he met his wife Angela during their time as students in youth group together at GCC and they are now raising their 3 daughters at GCC.