I truly believe there are tons of ways to go about ministry. I am weary when I hear, “Hear is the best way to do student ministry” and they go on to explain what they are doing. There is always a ton of different ways to do ministry and what works here in Southern California might not work in Texas and what works in Texas might not work in North Carolina. It all depends on context. Ministry is ministry yes, but context changes. So when I say why I plan the way I plan, I realize it has to do with my leadership style and context of the church I am at.

I’m lucky to be serving at a great church that truly trusts my leadership and how I run my team because they really do trust us to do what we feel we need to do and we are allowed to plan the way we feel like we need to plan. I honestly have extreme freedom to do what I feel like the Lord is calling us to do in our junior high, high school, and college ministry.

For the most part our team plans in quarters. We plan 3 months at a time when it comes to sermon series and events. Camps are planned at least 6 months in advance but a majority of the ministry is planned in 3-month periods. As of today our team was already planned until Easter, but we met to talk about April to June.

I thought I would write down some thoughts on why I like the quarter system and our team planning get always:

  • I plan in quarters because every time I plan past it I always end up changing the sermon series or events based on what I feel our students are going through and I don’t want to be stuck on an idea I don’t feel will work anymore.
  • The quarter system allows us to be flexible with series and events and truly read what we feel where the Holy Spirit is leading us to go with our students.
  • It prevents me from making and announcing a calendar I am not going to stick to.
  • Our team met over coffee to talk this weeks services, went to lunch as a team and then went to another coffee place to talk through sermon series and events. We love our coffee and food.
  • I gave our team an outline of events so they can come to the meeting prepared with ideas. Nothing worse than coming to an idea meeting cold and not prepared.
  • I am always ready to announce the end goal. “We will know today’s meeting will be a success when we have the general sermon series ideas (not a working title) and events for each ministry on the calendar.”
  • If you can, pay for your teams coffee and/or lunch. Nothing says awesome, high energy than free snacks.
  • When we hit our goal, the day is done. I let our team go home when we finish (even if we finish early) because planning, communicating, debating over what will work best is draining and they should be rewarded for having a great meeting.
  • Follow up with key. Email out the selected dates and the next steps when it comes to planning the details of the 10,000-foot level of planning you just did. If there is no follow up of expectations, your meeting was a waste.

Again, I’m not saying this system works the best, but I know it works for me and for my team in actually following up with what we have planned. It allows me to be flexible and still be able to read our ministry and not be stuck in doing something that when we finally get to it we regret it.

How do you plan? What works for you?