Tips for Planning Your Annual Calendar

8 Steps to Planning a Year of Youth Ministry

More often than not, youth groups can feel chaotic! Whether due to difficulties planning, lack of communication between students and parents, or calendar conflicts often trying to get a year laid out can be one of the biggest challenges of youth ministry!

Here are some tips to help you plan a calendar that will help you be prepared each week and help you look like a planning hero!
1- Get dates to parents early: Start at the beginning of the school year and plan through the beginning of the next school year! By looking at your local school calendar you can be sure you are taking advantage of all holidays in advance instead of having to throw an event together at the last minute. This will also ensure you have a diversity of types of events and continuity as you plan for the year.
2- Have regular events and trips each year: The temptation in youth ministry can often be to come up with new and creative experiences every year, but is that really necessary? Often taking your group to the same camp or retreat can be really beneficial. Consistency will help your group be excited from year to year instead of you having to get them excited for something they know nothing about. Familiar trips can also help students gauge their spiritual growth each year as returning to a place can help them see how far they have come.
3- Plan teachings or studies: Getting ahead of your series for the year can be a huge help. Even if you are just laying out ideas it will be a weight off your shoulders if you know the direction you are heading. This is also an encouragement for parents as they will know what their children will be learning. Additionally, this can help to encourage parents' involvement in their child's spiritual growth as they can see what is happening and what to ask about.
4- Give early registration deadlines: We all know how deadlines can end up being flexible, but laying out these dates on a calendar early on can help students and parents plan accordingly.
5- Explain financial commitments for families: Similar to getting dates and deadlines in parent's hands as early as possible, explaining financial commitments will be something they appreciate. This will allow them to plan and budget early on as well as see the value of being involved in any fundraising activities! This will also allow them to see what they want their child to participate in beforehand and give them space to ask you financial questions if necessary.
6- Plan a meeting to explain the calendar: Get as many parents and students together as possible to explain the calendar for the year and make sure they get some kind of printed copy. Doing this early in the school year is great since that is what parent’s and teenager’s calendars revolve around. They are starting to make plans based on the school calendar for the year, so you may as well get them the information for the youth ministry at the same time.
7- Give a take-home packet from your meeting: As mentioned above, giving them a hard copy of the calendar is incredibly helpful as you can reference it with them throughout the year. Even just a bullet point list of dates and an explanation of what events will cost is a start. Anything is helpful as parents will want something to look back on throughout the year.
8- Get in the habit of a monthly newsletter: This may seem like a big extra step of work, but it could also save you time when having to answer parent questions throughout the month. A youth newsletter does not have to be flashy, it is just a way to get the information in the hands of parents and students on a regular basis. It does not have to be time-consuming with creative design or images. Just the necessary information including events, fundraisers, youth group message topics, any payment deadlines coming up, etc. Having something in front of parents and students consistently will also help as they plan and prepare to be involved. Although you may be putting everything on social media, many parents would still prefer to have an email or handout with the information!

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