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Annual Planning for Youth Ministry

Planning is not the most exciting thing to talk about but is certainly necessary for a thriving youth ministry. Brian talks about some practical steps to planning with your leadership team for the new ministry year.

Two kinds of Planning Meetings:

  1. Annual Planning/Leadership Team Meeting: Before your ministry year begins, plan out the new year with your leaders.

Who should be there? – Keep it around 10-12 leaders. If you are a smaller ministry and can have all your leaders, have them all come. If your ministry is larger with more leaders, have a core team with a level of leadership between you and the other leaders, and plan with them.

Practical Things to do:
  • Pray together – Obvious, but it is important to start by seeking God’s guidance (Phil. 4).
  • Goal Setting – Discuss together what you want to see accomplished this year. Then narrow it down to one or two goals for you to focus on. Ex. outreach, teaching, etc. This will give you something to shoot for while planning.
  • Calendar Planning – Not fun but absolutely necessary.
    1 – Bring all the church, local schools, and leader’s personal calendars.
    2 – Put non-negotiable dates on the calendar first. These are the events you know will be happening and do not want to conflict with. Ex. Easter service, harvest jamboree, town festival, school event, etc.
    3 – Add large student ministry events for the year. These are events you know you want to do, or are already doing each year. Ex. Reverb, Dare 2 Share Live, camp, retreats, etc. Be mindful of spacing.
    4 – Add a combination of social fun events and service projects either monthly or quarterly.
    5 – Add weekly student ministry meetings. Begin with a kickoff date and choose an end date (even if you meet year-round). See which weeks you will be able to meet and which ones you will not. This tells you how many youth meetings you will have for the year, allowing you to plan curriculum, teaching and other preparations.
  • Teaching plan – Plan through the entire year (6 months at the very least). Figure out your modules/themes, your own individual lessons, when you will teach them, and who will teach them. Keep the subjects together with the same teacher. The teaching schedule can and probably will change, but being aware of the schedule allows your teachers to prepare.
  • Small Groups – Divide the students and assign their leaders before the year begins. We recommend a 1/6 ratio for leader/students (or two leaders if your policies require it).
  • First Month Detail Planning – Plan your first month of youth ministry meetings in detail. Who will teach, lead icebreakers, or worship? What announcements will there be? Who will clean up or bring refreshments, if any?

“Your leaders will want to be more involved the more they know what you expect of them.”

  • Prayer – Talk through how the Lord is leading you. Research before the meeting and present the demographics of your area. Share the schools and numbers of students around you. Map out the area you are trying to reach and pray for the opportunities to do so.

“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work. Prayer is the greater work.” – Oswald Chambers

Meeting Length – If you are prepared it could be about 2-3 hours, but depending on the group, you could make a day of it. While there may be some things you assign on your own prior to the meeting, involve the leaders wherever you can in the decision making. This will help them be more on board as they serve.

  1. Regular Planning/Leadership Team Meetings:

Gather for an hour, either monthly or bimonthly but no less than quarterly.

This allows time for an evaluation on how the ministry is going, a chance to look at an overview of the next few months, and to plan in detail the next months’ youth ministry meetings before the next regular planning/leadership team meeting.

You may also include a short time of training through video or your local church ministry coach. Then have some fun together as a team, eating or doing something recreational.

Finish by praying together.


Do not neglect planning if you struggle with it as a leader. Ask for help from a leader who loves administration or bring someone onto the team to help.

“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”- Make planning a part of your ministry this year.



Word of Life’s Student Ministry Curriculum is available at

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