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.