MYM 2010’s Best #3: Starting Slow and Steady

With the temperature in the 100’s (not kidding) and poison ivy rashes running up and down my arm it’s been hard to go out for a run or even a walk.  When this happens I’m a little more irritable and I feel bloated especially since it might be a good week before I hit the pavement.  It gets me anxious because each fall I run in the Baltimore Running Festival and I always want to be in the best shape possible.
In regards to ministry I want to be able to start the year strong.  Last year we did an amazing kickoff, where we rented a moon bounce, grilled out, had some big and amazing games; however, I question whether to do a huge kickoff again.  Why?

I don’t want to give false expectations to the students.  This thought was reaffirmed after reading an article from Rethinking Youth Ministry called 6 Ways to Guarantee a Lousy Fall.  Brian Kirk the author of the article explains that after hosting a kickoff the only place you have really left for your ministry to go is down.  Kickoffs have high energy, lots of planning and if you can’t produce that week in and week out, you are going to lose some students.  His suggestion is to save the energy for an end of the year celebration.  But that still leaves the question, “How do you start off the year?”
  • Authentically:  Make goals for your ministers to know names, to learn where students go to school.
  • Consistently:  Give the students a place where they can check back regularly, if you don’t meet once a week, utilize a social media like Facebook or Twitter.  After each week I have the students check in to Facebook for a memory verse or to review a challenge that we put out.
  • Have Goals In Mind: You might share these goals with the students, you definitely want to share them with your ministry team.  But tell them what you all hope to learn, what you may experience.  When you share your goals, it inspires others to create their own.  If you have students creating goals, they’ll be excited to return because they know you are there to help them.
The more information you can give a student from the start the more likely they will return, because the majority of teenagers and adults fear the unknown.  I’m not saying we won’t get a moon bounce this year, but I do know our goal is to be as clear and consistent so that teenagers new or old can be as excited as we are about what lies ahead.