Saturday, September 08, 2007

    Messy Planning

    Our recent poll asked how you go about planning for fall programming. 60% of you said that you do all the planning yourselves. The second highest response was "We don't do a lot of long-range planning. We like to be spontaneous!" Only a few folks said they work with others to do the planning.

    I have to admit that it's easy for me to get into the habit of doing it all myself. One one level, this makes sense. I'm the one who has time during the week to sit in my office and contemplate the best Bible studies, the right mixture of fellowship activities, the most effective schedule of lock-ins and retreats, the most interesting mission projects. Yes, it's always easier and more efficient to just do it all myself. But imagine the benefits to the youth if they are brought into the process:

    • As part of the planning process, youth get the opportunity to think intentionally about ministry. They learn to be thoughtful about why you do what you do in your program. They develop the skill of discernment regarding the church as they ask "Is this the right activity/study/trip for us? Does it fit with who we are and what we are about as a youth group?"
    • As part of the planning process, youth get to see first-hand the amount of work that goes into keeping the ministries of a church moving ahead. In this way, they are not insulated from the nuts & bolts and this will help to develop them as more thoughtful and effective church leaders when they reach adulthood. Translation: they will understand that great programs and ministries don't happen by themselves!
    • As part of the planning process, youth develop ownership of their ministry and are better able to see their "calling" within that ministry. With luck, this approach helps to diminish the "service station" approach many people (teens and adults) have toward church where they just show up and expect everything to be done for them.

    Now, admittedly, allowing youth into the planning process makes things a lot messier. They may come up with ideas you aren't too crazy about and they may fail to follow-through. And you may have to give up an idea you're in love with because the youth just don't get it. But in the end, you will have a group of youth much more engaged and excited about their ministry within the Church.



    Sandie said...

    I just wanted to add that I plan with youth all the time. As a mentor it is my job to teach them to plan their education. I have found that the more you trust their plans the more willing they are to listen to your input and ideas. If you are in love with and passionate about something, if there is a trusting relationship, they will usually give your idea (or parts of it)a fair try.

    Brian said...

    Excellent points, Sandie. In my experience, involving young people in the direction and planning of their education demonstrates respect for them as individuals. They will return the respect with increased trust and a willingness to partner with you as the adult.

    jeremy zach said...

    Great topic!
    I feel that planning with youth is somewhat useful. However, you are only going to get ideas that is stemmed in their needs, wants, and desires.

    There are two types of needs: 1) the felt need, and 2) the real need. The felt need is what the students think they need. We need more things that are going to be entertaining and fun, etc...etc.... The real need looks to research, social science, theologians, YM books, and parents who give a perspective of what the kids really really need. Typically the student is unaware of their "real needs."

    Therefore, that is why it is essential the youth pastor develop events/youth meetings/missions trips/camps aiming at both the real and felt need.

    I would also suggest developing a Youth Ministry VAST (visionary, actionary, support, team). This VAST will consist of maybe 8 to 10 who are: parents, adults (in the church), adult volunteers, or any other member in the church who has a strong interest in ym and planning.

    You can meet once a month or once a quarter and literally cast vision for the next couple of months. Nominate a chair person for the VAST team and you (the youth pastor) and the chair person can meet bi-weekly discussion the intentionality, planning, and vision of what is currently happening in the YM.

    Anyways.........those are my thoughts......

    Much love and IN HIS grip,

    ps i have told you guys how rad this site is?

    Brian said...

    Thanks for the positive feedback, Jeremy. I've been enjoying reading your site as well. And great suggestions on developing an advisory team for your youth ministry. I've done something like this in the past but admittedly have gotten a little lazy in recent years and it's time I get back to doing it again. Thanks for the encouraging nudge!