Activities and Student Availability
Another important factor in constructing a calendar for the ministry year is harmonizing your activities with your students' availability. For example, we used to do a fall retreat. Key phrase there, 'used to'. We have so many students involved in football, cheer leading, and band during the fall that our retreat became more of a burden than an actual retreat. So we moved it to the spring where the vast majority of our students are much less busy and therefore are actually able to enjoy the retreat.
Establishing a flow in your ministry calendar will look different for you than it will for me but there are some principles that you can follow to try and ensure maximum impact of your events:
- Don't always do your lock in, or whatever that specific event is for you, at the same time every year because 'that's when we've always done it'. I think that is the worst reason to do anything. You have to be willing to experiment with when you do events. We could have stuck to tradition and forced the retreat to stay in the fall, but we adapted to what our students availability was and moved it to the spring. Don't be afraid to move things around. If your calendar flows with the busy and slow seasons of your students lives you'll find that your events are much more impactful.
- Talk with families about when that busy season is. This accomplishes two things: it guarantees you know what's going on in the family life of your students and it shows the parents that you genuinely do care about the family, not just the student. Getting on the same page with the families in your ministry can only benefit you, them, and the ministry. It's a win-win-win.
- You might have to skip events. Tragic, I know. But here's the deal, your ministry is more than events, it's about relationship and discipleship. Maybe this year you just can't do the lock-in because the calendar is being lame. Don't let that get you down though. Use it as an opportunity to strengthen other areas of your ministry. Do small dessert nights throughout the year for your small groups instead of one big event that's going to suck the life out of everyone. Get creative and turn a potential negative into something cool and life giving.
Remember to ask yourself this question when you are building your calendar, "how will the timing of this event effect my students, positively or negatively?"
How have your learned to adapt your calendar?
[Part 2 in a series on Creating a Yearly Ministry Calendar]