4 Plans Every Youth Worker Should Be Making? Part 1

It’s Spring Break here in South East Michigan, (although we had snow flurries after 80f temps a few weeks back). It’s typical that here in Michigan during Spring break, vast numbers of families leave to head South to warm places like Florida… Except people like me… I am sitting in my local Starbucks watching the white stuff fall from the sky.

Despite the cold weather, it’s a great week for me to spend more time investing in planning while many of my students and leaders are out-of-town. Although the idea of planning can be highly offensive to many youth workers, I believe it is an imperative part to what we must do to have an effective ministry and to pursue longevity in our churches. When considering plans, here are 4 types of plans I believe every youth worker must be praying through and working on:

1) Strategic plan.  2) Teaching plan: 3) Seasonal plan: 4) Personal plan

Strategic Plan: For me, when I arrived at my current church, I prayed about and created a 3 year plan that seeks to build year after year. This plan has been adjusted a couple of times, but there has always been a plan written down. It does not have to be detailed, but must give you a big idea of what you are looking to achieve by the end of each year.

As you look at my plans below, you will see they are pretty basic and a broad brush stroke for each year. I did not look to move mountains, I simply tried to create a plan that would help to build trust, build success, and build momentum. It’s important to realize you can’t change the world at once!

As a younger youth worker I tried to change everything at once and didn’t understand the value of patience and building things slowly. I know there’s a lot of pressure to come in and change the world, but “too fast too soon” doesn’t usually last for the long-term. It’s important that a strategic plan takes time to build a solid foundation that will last for the long haul.

Here’s a snapshot of my 3 year plan I have been praying and working through: 

Year 1: Develop Relationships: Develop relationships with students, parents and youth leaders. Commit to listening first! Do not implement major changes. Listen to the people, review the programs, understand the culture. It’s imperative we listen and learn first so that we can build trust and earn the right to make changes…

Year 2: Tweak Programs: Continue to develop relationships with students, parents and youth leaders. Review the last year with students and leaders and THEN implement adjustments to existing programs and events. Create a teaching plan for the next 4 years and create a ‘big win’ event or trip that will rally people behind a cause or core purpose. (For us, this ended up being a huge mission trip that year).

Year 3: Bring Change: Implement foundational changes in order to create a sustainable youth ministry that is balanced with outreach, connection, growth, and serving. For us, we are planning some important changes to our discipleship program. Although what we are currently doing has had some good success, it is lacking in many ways. I am working with a core team of my youth leaders to create a new approach and delivery of discipleship material. Note that I am working with a team of volunteers and not in my own youth ministry vacuum. Big changes need buy-in. Buy-in occurs when we involve the right people in the process.

Coming in the next few days: 2) Teaching plan: 3) Seasonal plan: 4) Personal plan

What would you add to your strategic plan? What phase are you in your current ministry? What do you need to do more or less of? Have you built trust before you change things? Are people on board with you plans? How much have you prayed about your plans?

What questions can I answer for you? I would love to think this through with you!

Phil <><


8 Responses to 4 Plans Every Youth Worker Should Be Making? Part 1

  1. kate Dean April 10, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    I am very proud of you. Keep up the good work. X

  2. Phil Bell April 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Thanks Kate! It’s great to keep in touch with you!

    Phil <

  3. Mookie April 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Dude! I am loving this already! I appreciate you sharing your heart and your insights my friend!!!!! Looking forward to the other plans! Thanks for challenging and inspiring me by just being you!!!!

  4. Phil Bell April 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Mookie! Thanks mate! Would appreciate your feedback / comments in the next couple of days.

    Phil <

  5. David Hanson April 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Phil, this is great stuff! I’m going to share this with a few Youth Pastor buddies I have that are just getting their feet wet in Student Ministry! Looking forward to the subsequent posts!

  6. Heather April 10, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Phil, I’m new to your blog and love this post. I’m 19 months into my first church and I had the idea in mind about building relationships for the first 18 months but am wondering where to go next. I like your description of the Strategic Plan. I’m excited to read the next few parts to your process and see if I can borrow some of your ideas. I’m really good at loving, supporting, and encouraging the teenagers…it is the big picture stuff that I don’t have a clue where to start.

  7. Phil Bell April 10, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    David, that would be great! I think it’s really good for newbies to have a plan and structure to head for in their first few years! Glad you can pass this on!

    Phil <><

  8. Phil Bell April 10, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Heather, Congratulations on your first 19 months! I am so excited for you! I was like you in your first 19 months. Don’t ever lose the passion and love for teenagers, but make sure you can create some good structures to help you have greater quality time with them.

    The better I pray and plan will impact how much quality time I have with the teenagers I love being with. Feel free to comment anytime! Myself, Darren, John, and Leneita would love to encourage and help you!

    Phil <><

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