This week in our Sticky Faith Every Day series we share an article by Steve Argue on Time and Place. Steve notes,
The two go together. They must. And when they don’t, we know it.
You can be at the right place at the wrong time.
You can be in the wrong place at the right time.
Youth ministry is about both. Yet often we fail to consider them well. How many times have you sat down to look at the ministry year and just overlaid the new calendar with last year’s events and programs? Could there be a better way to plan?
Whether you’re doing evaluation and planning now or in the summer before the start of the new school year, you might find this little calendar tool helpful. We created it during our yearlong cohort looking at faith rhythms and practices. One of the realities that emerged was that youth workers often fail to think through the arc of the year and the path of spiritual formation they hope to lead students through across that arc of months and seasons.
We asked youth workers to use this or make their own calendar and map out with their ministry teams looking month by month at:
- Teenager’s calendars – What’s most relevant in their lives during each season? When are major tests and end-of-term projects due? What athletics or other activities tend to draw students away in each month, or when are they more available?
- Families’ calendars – How do parents tend to think about the family calendar, and how should that impact our planning? When would they like to get away or have down time at home? How can we better serve families?
- Church calendar – Whether you follow the liturgical calendar of seasons or have rhythms of your own, your church energy and focus inevitably shift from month to month. How could paying attention to this calendar impact planning?
- Youth ministry calendar – Now we can think about our youth ministry programming and events. Where do our pieces fit alongside the others? What does our calendar say about how we hope to engage students across each season? Alongside that…
- Ways we notice & engage God – Very specifically, as a ministry, church, or within families, what do our rhythms of spiritual disciplines look like month to month? Can we equip students and adults to engage God through different practices in different seasons? What does that look like as we cycle through one year to the next?
- Anything else that might be relevant to consider in a particular month – like a sabbatical, a volunteer retreat, or a local event that shifts your community’s focus.
Once you make your own calendar, wonder together about how place and time are interacting. Then consider what adjustments you might want to make to better align them.
Feel free to download and use this calendar, or create something better and share your ideas with us! What have you found helpful in evaluating and planning your ministry calendar?