I love the start of something new! A new year, the first day of school, a new home… the ability to start with a clean slate is so inviting and filled with hope and expectation!

This love of new is also reflected in my ministry. I find that I am at my best when launching new programs at the start of the school year, maybe you are too. I plan my whole year around launching our small groups in September, I have mastered leader onboarding in August, and our weekly services are always extra creative and inviting in the fall. The new is energizing and allows me to leave the missteps from the past behind me, making everything feel lighter and exciting.

Fast forward to now… it’s usually at this point in the year (around January) when I need the extra push to remain just as committed to providing each program in my ministry the intentionality I give it in the fall. We aren’t in the new anymore, we are in the less shiny part of the year. When our programs are up and running it can be easy to go into maintenance-mode, rather than continue to be creative and intentional. Yet this is exactly when it matters most that we stay the course. It’s at this point in the school year where you begin to build on the foundation laid in the fall, where you can dig even deeper into relationships, and start to challenge yourself, students, and leaders in meaningful ways. This is when ministry starts to get really good!

So here’s my question, what can we do at the start of 2022 to keep our ministry momentum going?

Here are a few suggestions…

1. Throw predictability out the window.

By this point in the school year, your students are super familiar with your weekly programs. They know exactly where the prayer wall is located in your meeting room, they can tell you the basic order of service without even looking at your run sheet, and they even know that you always end the night with pizza from Little Caesar’s. Surprise them this week! Move things around your meeting space (if you normally sit in rows, sit around tables for a week), change your typical order of service, or play an out of the box game that is a full on experience. Change can be good, embrace it!

Here are a few creative game experiences that will have your students wondering “how did they come up with this?!”

You can get Unlock the Box Winter Edition for FREE on Download Youth Ministry until January 21 with code: HAPPYNEWYEAR

2. Keep investing in volunteers.

Like you, volunteers need some extra motivation at the halfway mark of the school year, our job is to load them up on encouragement and helpful tools! Keep appreciating them with a text or notecard, check in on them to see how they are doing personally and as ministry leaders, send them a devotional you think they would be blessed by, or send them a tool or resource that they can use with students at their next gathering. Bottom line, keep investing in your leaders all year long, your ministry will feel it!

Here are a few resources that make investing in leaders super easy this month!

3. Encourage spiritual next steps.

The new year is a great time to challenge students in their faith, especially if they’ve been attending youth group since the fall. This can be as simple as giving them a guided devotional as a first step to reading the Bible on their own, inviting them to serve or lead in a ministry, or challenging them to invite their friends to church. Use discernment, pray, and then help students say yes to Jesus’ invitations for their life.

Here are a few resources that make next steps practical and doable for students:

Although we, in the youth ministry world, traditionally structure our ministry launch and program kick offs around the school year, the new calendar year brings fresh perspective as we prepare to tackle the second half of the school year. And I am finding that using the start of a new calendar year as a time to refocus and reorient myself always proves to pay off in the long run.

What are some things you’re doing this month to keep your ministry’s momentum going?


Jessica Sanchez

Jessica has been serving the local church for over 18 years. She loves youth ministry because students are hilarious, loving, and teach her so much about following Jesus. She’s currently on the DYM team, is a spiritual director to church leaders, and is a volunteer small group leader to high school girls.