As summer is quickly coming to an end and fall is quickly approaching, I like to think about how the events or programs I oversee can be better. I also like to brainstorm new ones.
My goal is to learn from my failures with summer events so I don’t repeat them in the fall. Through failure, I’ve grown to love the planning process a lot more.
Here are seven questions I ask myself based off events and programs I didn’t think all the way through:
1. What’s the purpose of the event/program? Knowing the purpose of the event I’m planning helps me gauge my target audience. Not every student will want to come to a worship event or discipleship event. Knowing the purpose allows me to go all-out on promotion that is specifically created with the purpose of the event in mind. My goal is to reach those I’ve identified as my potential taget.
2. Will students want to come? I have to be careful that I don’t plan something based on my own preference but instead something that will be great and fun for students. I’ve pulled core students in on the planning just to get their perspective on an event or program.
3. Is there opportunity for building relationships? I think of this question in terms of student-to-student or leader-to-student. Of course there will be both going on, but being intentional about which one best fits the event takes the event to the next level. A lot of times I push students to our events so they can get connected, so I have to think about that during the planning process.
4. Are there follow-up or next steps needed? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed the opportunity to challenge students to take the next step or follow up with them because I didn’t think it through beforehand. I’ve been thinking about helping students follow up with friends they bring to events. This is definitely a question you want to ask yourself.
5. Should it cost, and is it the right amount? I’m always thinking, "Is there a way not to charge?" Sometimes it’s doable, like the park day we do where we provide lunch, but this is not always the case. Some events or programs have no budget, and students have to pay, which is OK, as long as it’s the right price point that has been thought through. Parents will definitely appreciate this step.
6. Where can we cut costs? Again, I’m thinking about budget and parents. Budget money is coming from people who believe in the God-given mission of the church. I definitely want to care about where their money is going. So "Where can we save money?" is the question.
7. How can we help students invite their friends? Students are connected nonstop with their friends through social media and texting. We’ve had great success using these mediums to help them invite their friends. The goal is to be as creative as you can be. If you’re not that creative, get some of your students to help you. They will love it, and you will have potentially started a new ministry.
Now, I know there are more than just seven questions, so what else can we think about in the planning process to make it the best event/program ever? Would love to hear your thoughts!
Aaron Crumbey oversees pastoral care for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church. He cares deeply about sharing Christ with students and seeing them reach their full potential in Christ. He's married with three children, loves family time, sports, movies and all things musical among some other things. He also runs www.yoacblog.com.
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