I am working on my summer calendar a bunch this week trying to get it finalized. I thought it would be good to share a few mistakes to avoid if you are working on your calendars. I’m guilty of just about all of these. Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes and avoid these biggies:

  1. Wait too long to start. Let’s be honest, planning isn’t always a youth pastor’s strong suit. It’s a necessary part of our ministry and the earlier you start on planning calendars the easier it will be. I usually plan the big stuff (camps and mission trips) around a year out. For the retreats and events that need more creativity I plan about 6 months out. I finalize calendars with the smaller stuff about 3 months out. I’ve found that this rhythm allows me to plan long term without being inflexible.
  2. Don’t consult other ministries. Inevitably you will run into conflict with other ministries’ schedules if you don’t talk to them first. The most obvious person to talk to is your Children’s pastor. You definitely don’t want to plan an event over one of theirs (AKA VBS). I actually made this mistake this year with a music camp our church does.
  3. Make it too expensive. Flashy and expensive events are great, but they put a strain on families with tight budgets (which is more than you might think). Someone gave me this great tip a few years back. Go through a semester/summer calendar and add up all the money a student would be spending if they came to your events. You’d be surprised how much total money your families might expect to spend, especially if they have multiple children in the ministry.
  4. Plan too much. Don’t clog your time with a bunch of programming. Less is actually better in this case because it allows for informal and casual hang out time with students.
  5. Plan one type of event. You have different students with different passions/abilities/interests. If you cater to one type of student, they are the only ones who will come. Plan different events for the athletes, creatives, musical, gamers and even awkward students so that they can feel comfortable coming to events.

This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good start. Leave a comment if you’ve got other thoughts or ideas that help you in your calendar planning.