Are youth events worth it? 100,000%, YES! Youth events are a unique way to connect with your current students and welcome newcomers strategically yet naturally. In addition, a consistent regularity of events gives the teens something to look forward to and provides various opportunities for both discipleship and leadership.
But they are a lot of work. Even worse, I often succumb to the temptation that this next event must be the biggest and most life-changing thing the world has ever witnessed. This may be a tad hyperbolic, but not by much. As youth pastors and youth leaders, we can easily fall into the trap of “we need more.” We need more candy. We need more craziness. We need more pool noodles. We need the absurdly expensive chocolate fountain. But the search for the next big thing leaves us stressed when planning and disappointed with the outcome. Yet our teens really don’t need to go to the most expensive theme park, or to play the most insane game, or to have nonstop entertainment. What they need is a place that fosters community, provides safety from the darkness of the world, and proclaims the hope of the gospel.
Don’t get me wrong though. Have fun! Be weird! Do things the teens enjoy and give your all into putting the event together! But remember, events are platforms for future ministry. Our goal for the event is to further the message of the gospel by reaching unbelievers and training believers. Therefore, we must be wise, strategic, and prayerful in our planning. And as anyone in youth ministry will tell you, events take a LOT of planning.
I by no means have found the “perfect formula” for the most successful event that is equal parts fun and spiritually transformative (although the two are not mutually exclusive). But after finding patterns in the successes and failures of past events and seeking advice from much more experienced pastors, I have been able to compile a “Youth Events To Do List”.
Use this as a resource to guide you in building the structure and direction for your specific event with your specific youth group. Also, do it all one step at a time. As a wise man in my church once said: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
So, without further ado, I present to you “A Youth Event To Do List”:
Developing the Skeleton of Your Event:
- Determine the Location
- Decide on a Theme
- Create an Itinerary
- Discuss the Itinerary with your Leaders/Volunteers
- Analyze the Anticipate Monetary Profit/Loss
- Determine the Cost
- Communicate the Layout & Purpose of Event with Parents
Promoting Your Event:
- Design a Logo/Graphic
- Create Posters
- Create a PowerPoint Background
- Film a Promotional Video
- Add Event to your Church’s Website/Calendar/Church Database Program
- Create a Facebook/Instagram Event
- Design & Pass Out Invitations
- Send Mailouts to Prospective Students
- Add Event to the Church Bulletin
- Make an Announcement (both with the youth group and with the congregation)
Making Your Event a Reality:
- Sell Tickets and/or Create Sign Up Sheets
- Pass Out Liability Waivers and/or Permission Slips
- Plan Transportation & Recruit Drivers
- Decide on Menu
- Create Shopping List
- Buy Food/Supplies
- Recruit People to help with Set Up & Tear Down
- Set Up Check In Table (collect waivers, collect payments, record attendance, and pass out visitor cards)
Self-Assessment Questions to Ask Before Your Event:
- What is the purpose for your event?
- What can you delegate to your leaders? What can you delegate to your students?
- Have I included a way to both connect with current students and welcome guests?
- Have I brought this event before the throne of God and surrendered the planning, purpose, and outcome over to Him?
- Did I incorporate a way to share the gospel?
- Fill out a Profit/Loss Report
- Create a Pros/Cons List
- Determine steps for improvement
- Recognize and rejoice over how God worked and provided!
God’s working through our youth event is not determined by our budget, our perfectly design invitation, or our ability to survive an all-nighter. Instead, we can trust that our sovereign yet caring Lord will make His name known when we are surrendered, and our motive is proclaiming the good news of the gospel for the glory of God alone.
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24
Youth events are not a waste or burden, but a platform to see our Lord work!