Building Momentum for the NEW year by skipping December… wait… what?

I was explaining to the youth team at Mariners Church (where I’m the youth pastor) that when you put the pressure on yourself to always be original and creative… you often miss both targets. I love the goal and the enthusiasm, but my statement revolves around the word “always.” There are just too many ups and downs in a ministry calendar year to ALWAYS be anything. Since we’re in this ministry-thing for the long-haul, it’s okay to plan around seasons and build for momentum.

For example, where we are in November, I want our youth ministry to capitalize on the potential momentum of the new year (January). To do that, I’d rather beg, borrow and steal our way thru December (when everyone is overly busy, when themed-resources are abundant, when people aren’t expecting anything new original and creative to compete with Christmas, etc…) and then use our saved time in December to plan for the new year momentum in January.

I jokingly told the team I could program the entire month of December in an hour by using the resources available on DYM. After our meeting, I decided to back-up my claim and program an entire month using the GREAT content/resources that amazing youth workers have already created. AND… I’ve saved TONS of HOURS that we can now use to adequately prepare for January.

A couple days later when I was with the DYM team, I told them how much Josh and I love and depend on downloadyouthministry.com for our own youth ministry programming needs. I bragged about the ease-of-my-month of programming and immediately Michelle (the genius behind the pipeline of what makes it on the DYM website) got super hyped and said, “You should share all that with our DYM friends because that might save them time too!”

Oh… sure… super easy! If this helps you… great! If not, I get it. But, the heart and principle behind what I did for our youth ministry at Mariners is exactly why Josh and I started DYM—to save you time so you could spend it on only what you can do (that we/DYM can’t do for you). So, if you’re interested… here’s December planned out with the specifics of resources and why I chose them. And, in DYM-like-fashion we’ve bundled them all together for a ridiculously low price.

What we’re doing:

  1. A 3-week Christmas Series
  2. A take-home, grow on your own, 25-day devotional called Hope is Coming (leading up to Christmas)
  3. Two special events: one for our entire group, and one for our small groups to do as their Christmas party.

The 3 Week Christmas Series includes full-programming for each weekly meeting

  • Countdown videos
  • Games
  • Transition videos
  • Messages
  • Small group content

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Send a letter to parents in November letting them know the big-picture theme of the series (we’re calling it Hope is Coming) and encourage their family participation in the 25-day Christmas journal they can pick up at church (or we can email it) for them to start reading on December 1.

 

  1. Download Hope is Coming (the 25-day reproducible devotional) and make as many copies as you want for your group. As with most DYM products, if you want to edit or redesign you can do it easily (in Word format), but we won’t—it’s really well written by one of my favorite DYM authors (Sabrina Hadro). There’s also a promo slide included which we’ll use as a weekly reminder to pick-up the devotional.

  1. Download the 3-week series called New Season’s Greetings. It’s developed from veteran youth pastors and it’s outstanding. I personally like the format of how they teach it, and the content is biblically solid, the illustrations are strong and it won’t take much work to adapt to my students (BTW: I never teach a DYM product word-for-word—I always rework a little to fit my style, my illustrations, and my students). The series also comes with: (a) Game ideas, (b) Worship/Music song suggestions, (c) Stage Design Ideas, and (d) Background Music (pre/post service) selections. The only big-change we will make is on the series title—we’ll call the entire series Hope is Coming to match the devotional (see #2 above) and this title is a better fit for the end of 2020.
  2. Even though the teaching series has excellent graphics, I had new graphics made for the entire look/feel of Hope is Coming (which include social media/promo graphics). If you choose to purchase this bundle, we’ve included the new graphics for FREE – download them HERE!!!
  3. Download the “programming pieces” that add [what I commonly refer to as] an element of fun or engagement.
  • Game: My style is to use some type of fun/humor to break the ice and get the crowd feeling comfortable being together. Sometimes the games are based on a table-competition (your team is the table you’re sitting at) and other times I’ll pick students to come on stage and either represent their table and/or their grade. There are dozens of amazing Christmas-themed games on the DYM site, but here are the 3 that I chose that will crush and can be played in a variety of ways:

 

  • Transition videos: I’ll often use short videos to transition from a song to the message, or from a game to a song, or from announcements into a student testimony. These videos are just a simple way that helps reinforce a teaching or a the big-picture theme of the series and/or season. Videos also have a way of transitioning energy, quieting the crowd, and bringing their focus upfront. Here are 3 different but similar videos that I’ll use in this series:

6. Download Silent Night Guided Meditation for a 60-90 minute time of Christmas reflection. We have some student leaders and some spiritual mature students who will really enjoy this! It will be a mellow night of Scripture reading and reflection and a very socially-distant-friendly program. This one was a difficult decision, because I downloaded Be Still Worship Experience and The Christmas Story Worship Experience and both looked great. I have a volunteer who is going to run this night and sent her all three and she chose the one we’re using.

  1. Download Unlock the Box: Christmas Edition (There’s actually a Volume 2 headed into the store!). We’re giving this to all of our small group leaders for them to use as their small group gathering Christmas party. It’s super clever and it’s something that is so much better than I could ever do on my own (well, most things on DYM are like that). This will be a hit and take the pressure off of my leaders for figuring out what to do.
  2. Finally, when I was searching “Christmas” on our website, I found Advent Christmas Pack which I downloaded and will use to load up our Instagram during December. This is a no-brainer—25-Instagram ready-graphics to prepare students for Christmas. It was like the icing on the cake.

There it is… I hope it’s helpful. Now you don’t have to spend the last month of 2020 thinking about 2020… right? What a crazy year it has been! Now you can take December programming off and put your best creative and original thinking toward capturing the momentum that January, the new year, 2021, a Covid-19 virus, and the Rams winning the Super Bowl will bring to your students.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year… Hope is Coming!

HO HO HO – Don’t forget we are giving you 50% OFF you buy 10 or more Christmas resources! For real, if you go right now and add 10 Christmas resources to your cart, and then go check it out… you’ll see that we already applied the discount for you. Merry Christmas!