I know events in youth ministry are one of the thing 1) youth pastors love to do and 2) is a good way to create some momentum with the young people in our church. In reality, fun breaks down walls and fun is the language of students. It allows relationships to form and let’s be honest… who doesn’t like a little bit of fun in their lives?

But I think we need to move past throwing events just to throw events. I think 1) we need to plan better and more strategic ones to move the ministry forward and 2) need to stop throwing random events on random days. How many times have we put together an event on a Friday night to where it was good, new people came, but the friends who were invited never stepped foot on your campus or were seen again? Lots of time, energy and budget are spent on events like that and we need to be more creative and strategic.

I really do believe that one of the best things you can do is only plan events that are attached to your already existing youth services. Yes, sure, there are always exceptions to any event but I think if 90% of what you plan is attached to services it is way more effective and you get more bang for your buck.

I have been doing this for the last few years and we started doing it in my current ministry now and we have seen some great results because of it.


  • You get 100% participation. Everyone is already there and will stay (at least for a little bit) to the thing you have planned for after. 
  • Friends get the invite to service, they get to experience what services are all about, they get to experience what a small group is and why we do it and then have a little bit of fun after.
  • The hope is they are exposed to the great community and the Gospel when they do come and they get to see something that the world does not offer them. For us, everyone is placed into a small group and I believe (if done well) once students see what comes along with that, it’s something this generation is attracted to. 
  • Events after service are shorter because we don’t want to go super late (especially during the school year) but if you do them well, it won’t matter. There is nothing worse than an event that should have ended 20 minutes ago. End it on a high note…early. Leave them wanting more.
  • An event once a month is a great goal. These don’t need to be extravagant. The goal is to: Create a fun and memorable event for your students to invite a friend too. 1) It creates an inviting culture with the expectation that students are supposed to invite friends (sidenote: the event needs to be quality because students will not invite new friends to something they don’t find valuable) and 2) it’s to keep students after service for 15-30 minutes than normal. This allows an opportunity for leaders to make new connections.
    • Examples of the types of things our campuses have done:
      • Cereal bar
      • Glow in the dark dodgeball
      • Breakfast for dinner
      • Extreme Bingo
      • Game show night
  • We have found that we have had a higher percentage of new students come back a second time because of 1) connections that were made and 2) they had a different perception of what church was.
  • We have been doing what we call “1st Wednesdays” since September and we have seen 30% growth because of the inviting culture this has created.

No more time and budget spent on events that are not strategic to your vision of reaching new students who don’t know Jesus. We need to think through how to encourage our students to be bold about inviting friends into something that our world cannot give to students today. A community of people who care for each other that stands out because he believes in Jesus and takes his commandments seriously.

Evangelism and discipleship are important, but I think having some fun is also. I think it’s a stable in youth ministry. I also think youth workers need to get a little more strategic and think through about how effective the events we throw actually are. It’s a simple switch, but I think will see more of the results we desire.