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Youth Ministry Planning 101

It’s that exciting time of the year when calendars, pencils, erasers, highlighters, apps and dry erase boards help us navigate through the final plan for the next 12 months in ministry. If we are honest, we all know when we submit our final calendar to the parish secretary, it’s unfinished. Here are some practical things that you can do to make your calendar a balance of effective ministry, sabbath, vocation, family, and friends.

If you have already planned and submitted your calendar you might want to go back to see if some of these tips will help. I start with a monthly calendar, and I keep google and my smartphone nearby. I use a template on my computer and choose a color for each ministry group. Are you ready to start planning? Well, let’s get started.

Tip #1: Save the Occasions

Get your phone out! I start by adding color and text to add in my spouse, parents, siblings and any other birthdays, anniversaries and important occasions that I want and need to be present. You will notice how many potential conflicts you may have, and you can start to plan your days off too, but we’ll get to that later.

Tip #2: Know the Holidays

I start writing in Liturgical holidays and other annual holidays. Calendar in Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. Every parish has different traditions and ministry opportunities. If you have cultural festivals and celebrations such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dia de Los Muertos, Chinese New Year, or Las Posadas celebrations, you will want to include those in your annual calendar. Long weekends are always a problem, so you might have trouble getting teens to Life or Edge Night, or even a retreat on a three-day weekend. Finally, there are government holidays such as Independence Day, Boxing Day, or Thanksgiving to be aware of in planning your calendar.

Tip #3: Consider School Calendars

It’s good to plan with all holidays in mind and even more important to know the school calendars and how they may differ. For example, our local Catholic and public schools will always be different when it comes to winter break, spring break, etc. Know when SAT and ACT tests are taking place, school dances, graduations, and Finals week.

Tip #4: Choose Youth Ministry Events and Dates

Time to pick the best dates for your ministry events. This is going to vary based on weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or seasonal events.

Weekly and Bi-Weekly: Edge Nights, Life Nights, and Confirmation Classes

Monthly: Core Meetings, Liturgy Planning Meetings, Staff Meetings, and other monthly events

Seasonal: Parish Festival, Retreats, Retreat Planning Meetings, Summer Camps, Mission Trips, Youth Conferences and other seasonal events

For example, my parish Edge Ministry meet Friday’s twice a month. I decide which days will work best based on what I have already written down in tip 1-3. Bonus tip: I ask Life Teen and Edge Core Teams to meet on the same day and time so we can pray, train and grow together and then we break for planning our ministry event.

Tip #5: Sabbath (It’s a Commandment, not a Suggestion)

When you look at my monthly calendar, you will notice that each week there are two days with a line through the box. These marked out dates indicates the days I have selected as Sabbath days. Sometimes they are consistent, and sometimes they vary, but there’s two every week. After completing Tips 1-4 you have a better outlook on where rest days work best on any given week. It’s cool see what days I am off in March or April of the following year, not to mention it’s a commitment that will prevent burnout.

Tip #6 – Enjoy Your Time Planning

Make it fun and creative while keeping in mind that you’re not just planning ministry events but rather life events for yourself and those you love, including the teens you serve.

Image via FlickrCC 2.0 Logo added

About the Author

Gabriel Reyes

Gabe has been active in youth ministry since 1998 and started exploring music ministry soon after. He has ministered to teens in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Diocese of Orange and San Bernardino as youth minister and worship leader. Currently Gabe is the youth minister at St. James in Redondo Beach, CA. In his free time Gabe enjoys movies, tv, basketball and the beach. He is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Executive Leadership.

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