Set Up Your Year up to Win

I have spent a lot of time in ministry spinning my wheels.  I don’t know if you can relate, but there have been seasons where it felt like I couldn’t work any harder, pray any longer, but the results were just not happening.  Now I know some people will frown because I just used the word “results.”  Yes, I do know that the results are the Lord’s, but I also know that if I share my faith with 100 people and you share yours with one, I will get better results.  I also know that your ministry can get tons of effort, but if you don’t have a healthy, efficient strategy it will glean little.  Sometimes in ministry we are set up to fail and we don’t even realize it.  We love Jesus.  We love the Church.  We love ministry.  It is a classic case of failed organizational leadership.  Every leader in ministry should know how the ebbs and flows of a year work so that they can maximize their year for the greatest impact.  This is just being a steward of resources, calling, effort, and energy.  Let me give you an example of how I practically think through a year to set it up for maximum effectiveness.

Month-by-Month Strategy:
This is typically a lower attendance time during the year, but it is still very significant.

DO NOT CANCEL YOUR MINISTRY FOR THE SUMMER. I used to make this mistake, but it will cost you momentum.  Think of the summer as a time of inconsistent attendance, but a time to pick up more students.  School is out, families move to your community in the summer, and your activity during the day can increase.  It is also a time to work the transition from Children’s Ministry to Middle School Ministry and Middle School Ministry to High School Ministry.

DO FUN STUFF.  Recruit like crazy to build your team for the fall.  Get a few students that will come in the office a few times a week to help out with grunt work and disciple them in the process.  Use mission trips and camp to build momentum for the fall.

TAKE SOME PERSONAL VACATION.   You want to go into August and September rested.

This is the most important two months of student ministry.  In fact, I spend 30% of my yearly budget in these two months.  It creates the greatest opportunity for momentum and numerical growth.  No Vacations.  Work harder than ever before. Plan your series for growth.  Make the title of a series and content interesting to a first time guest.  I am not doing a series on the Holy Spirit or the hypostatic union during August and September.  Keep energy high.  Have some sort of bash on your ministry night that will be high invite.  Set your students up to win by giving them invite cards and social media content to promote.  Have something awesome two weeks after your bash that you can invite those that come to your bash back to.  Promote one event into the other.  If I can get students there multiple times, there is a much higher probability that they will stick.  In my rhythms, I teach every week in Aug/Sept and Jan/Feb. Launch small groups in this time as well.

This is the time to get the new students that have started attending to go deeper in their faith.  Do a spiritual hook series.  This will be spiritually deepening series that drives God’s word deep into the hearts of your students.  I always take the last week of October and do a Halloween Bash and have students dress up.  This is something you can promote through the month and a way to not lose the fun while you are going deeper.

This is a great month to do a Leadership Series.  Look at what Jesus’s leadership teaches us.  Challenge students to get involved and serve.

Don’t over-program.  People are busy this time of year.   Focus on executing a strong service (because most of your fall sports students come back, hook them so they will be back in January.)  I give residents and other staff chances to teach during December.  We cancel for 2 weeks over Christmas.  This gives you and your volunteers a mid-year break.  If your ministry falls apart taking 2 weeks off then it isn’t built on much.  You will be fine.  Get rested up, because January is a very important month.  Take some time off.

Call every student before the first night starts.  Have a night to recap previous year and set vision for the New Year. This is a building time. Not as strong as the fall, but definitely a peak time.  Do another series that generates excitement for students.

Keep the momentum going.  Do something big that can be a high invite on a night in February.  Do it on a ministry night.  Great time for a dating and sex series, but don’t limit these conversations to February.

Just like October.  Spiritual hook and drive deep something.

Easter/Spring Break.  Energy will die down and so will attendance if you don’t give yourself a shot in the arm.  Do something two weeks after spring break.  Promote it going into spring break and crush social media coming out of spring break.   If you do something and say it is going to be good, it better be good.  Nothing generates more excitement than when you have credibility.  If I say it is going to be incredible, we will have a huge spike in attendance for that night, because we always deliver.

It is graduation time. We do something for seniors, a senior night.  However, we do not promote it as senior night to the students or none of the underclassmen will show up.  If your middle and high school ministries are split, make sure the high school pastor is speaking and present at middle school and the middle school pastor is present at children’s ministry stuff.  Work the transition.

That is our year.  I am not suggesting that you carbon copy what we do, but I am suggesting that you think through your year strategically.  This is organizational leadership.  This will be a lid for your ministry if you are not thinking through each season of ministry.  Keep doing great work and I pray that your reach for Jesus will be farther than anything you can ever do on your own.

Derik Idol
Guest Blogger

Derik has served in full time student ministry for 16 years, with the last 14 years in the local church.  He has experience at churches of every size from 250 to 17000.  Derik has been serving as the High School Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, GA for the last 4 ½ years.

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