Part of being a leader is making what feels like a million decisions. Decisions about everything from what Bible verse to teach to what pool noodle game to play at camp. However, few decisions are as extensive and important as the decisions you make about your plan for each ministry year. That’s why before you make any decisions, there are actually some questions you need to ask:
What do you want kids to grow up and believe?
What exactly is the responsibility of a volunteer?
What are you hoping to convince parents to do?
What will be the best way to measure effectiveness?
In other words…what’s your strategy?
We define strategy as a plan of action with an end in mind. Basically, you need to ask yourself two questions:
Who do you want kids to become?
What are the action steps that will help you make that happen?
You see a strategy has the potential to connect your resources, events, curriculum, and leaders into one integrated plan to lead a child or teenager into a growing relationship with Jesus. That’s the mission after all, right?
So, what does this look like and how do you be strategic as you plan your ministry year?
It isn’t as simple as grabbing dates on a calendar and dropping in your events. Families are busy, and when it comes to scheduling our church calendar, a best practice is to realize the other calendars in a family’s life that influence their availability.
Basically, you need to be aware of the . . .
local school calendars, community calendars, and church calendar.
That’s because you should strive for your ministry calendar to compliment instead of compete with the other events happening in a family’s everyday world. Not only will each event generally just be more successful, but you will also demonstrate that you are thinking about families and care about them.
While planning your year you don’t just need to be mindful of the other calendars affecting the families in your ministry. You should also be strategic about what events you do and when. An event is any programming outside of your primary environment that creates energy or momentum. Events are things like camps, family experiences, milestone celebrations, and service projects.
But, not all events are created equally. There is a big difference between a random event and a strategic event.
Random events are created to meet various needs.
Strategic events are created to lead people to what’s next.
Random events work independently.
Strategic events work together.
Random events tend to establish competing systems.
Strategic events establish complementary systems.
Random events function as activities.
Strategic events function as steps.
A strategic event has the end in mind. It’s leading to something else. It’s a step toward the desired destination. Events should strengthen and solidify small groups, so kids and teenagers have a safe place and a safe group of people to process faith with as they develop an authentic faith.
Finally, as you plan your year it matters not just what events and programming you do and when, it matters what you actually say at those events. That’s why you do what you do, right? You believe in the message of who Jesus is and what He did and how that has the potential to change a kid’s or teenager’s future. That’s why you also need to plan an annual teaching calendar. After all, you will only have 30-40 hours a year to influence a kid or teenager, so you need to be intentional about saying and recycling what matters most.
That means deciding what concepts and passages and stories and verses are most important for the kids and teenagers you serve and putting those on the calendar first.
And here’s the key, we have to prioritize what matters most for them at their current stage of life.
For most of us, there will always be a gravitational pull toward teaching what is most helpful or most interesting to us, as adults. But what’s helpful for US isn’t always helpful for a teenager or a little kid. So, we have to dig into where they are developmentally and discern what they absolutely can’t miss this year.
Then, we repeat it. Why? Well, for a few reasons.
First, kids’ brains are always growing and transforming. That means they’ll understand certain truths differently as they get older. Love your neighbor looks differently in preschool than it does in social media chats or dating life. So there’s a value in repeating important concepts at every life stage. But maybe a better reason to repeat is this:
At the same time, as humans, we rarely remember something the first time we hear it. No, we have to hear the same concept over and over before we can remember and apply it to our lives.
Here at Orange, we refer to this repetition strategy as our scope and cycle—scope referring to WHAT we teach and CYCLE referring to how often it’s repeated. If you’re an Orange Partner, we give you all of this information upfront as it is the basis of our curriculum, but even if you’re not a partner, you can still access the one-year scope to help you plan your year.
Grab this resource to help you plan your ministry year.
While considering different calendars, creating strategic events, and refining your messaging strategy is a good start to planning your year, that is just the beginning of the process. We know you also have to think about partnering with parents and training volunteers, not to mention figuring out budget and resources. Creating an annual plan for your ministry is not a simple task. It takes planning, intentionality, and willingness to innovate and try something new, but the mission is too important to not be strategic.
Check out our How to Plan Your Ministry Year Resource today to make next year the best ministry year yet!