GUEST POST: Kicking Off Another Ministry Year (Part 2)

In this 2 part guest post, Stephanie Riebe and Joe Garrison of Castleton UMC in Castleton, Indiana share ideas on how to launch a great youth ministry year! In the first post , Stephanie shared 2 key events to get everyone informed and excited about the ministry year. In this post, Joe shares three things he believes help provide for a successful kickoff to school year ministries within the church.

GUEST POST: Kicking Off Another Ministry Year (Part 2)

Each Fall provides a natural place in the year for our ministry to begin anew. It gives us time to reevaluate everything we do and determine what God is blessing with fruit, and what isn’t working. The last thing we want to do is remain “Same, Lame, and Tame” as our pastor says. We want to act on the nudging of the Holy Spirit to branch out in ministry to reach new students, and reach current students more effectively.

There are three things I believe that help provide for a successful kickoff to school year ministries within the church: timing, frontloading, and hype. Let me explain…

God’s timing is the best timing. It sounds cheesy, but it is true. If God wants to start something new in your ministry He will provide the proper timing for it. We have learned this over the years that God often gives a vision for something new long before He is ready for us to launch it.

For example: God gave us a vision for a high school small group ministry a few years ago. It was exciting and full of potential…but He didn’t provide the right time to launch it until Fall 2013. It was a huge success in it’s first year and in hindsight…it would have failed miserably had we launched it two years before that. He gave us the vision and timing for a successful ministry launch.

This is a term my speech pathologist wife uses when talking about children. As an elementary school speech pathologist she’s always talking about how frontloading a child before introducing them to a new situation helps them manage the new environment and helps them cope with change. This is true for the students in your ministry as well as their parents…and lets not forget the congregation outside the ministry, within your church, that might not take to change either.

Through events like our leaders retreat and the Fall Family Brunch we have the opportunity to begin casting a vision for changes that are coming in the weeks ahead. We have the opportunity to control the tone through which the launch of new ministries, and the end of old ministries, is communicated to our families. Presenting new ministries in this way, then allowing a few weeks in between before the ministry launches, gives people a chance to prepare themselves for what can sometimes be significant (but fruitful) change.

We love throwing a huge party for our students at the beginning of each school year. We call them simply “Fall Kickoff” and have separate parties for 5th-8th grades and 9th-12th grades. Each party is just a block party style event with tons of games, food, inflatables and craziness. The kids love them and have over the years brought tons of friends to them.

These parties both provide a chance to get students excited about the upcoming ministry year as well as offer us a chance to connect with new students and get correct contact information on all students and families. It is our policy that each student that attends any of our events or ministries fills out a registration card with basic contact information for them and their parents. This offers us a way to connect with them later as well as the information we might need if there was an emergency while they are with us and we need to contact a parent or guardian.

There is no perfect way to kick off a new school year. We struggled early to do it effectively and have learned the hard way how to just continue to seek God’s timing and get a little better each year. What works for us might not work for you. Just continue to think outside the box, seek advice from other ministries that are successful, and above all seek God’s wisdom in all things.

ABOUT JOE: Joe serves as Assistant Director of Student Ministries at Castleton UMC. Joe is a huge Colts fan, plays guitar, bass and drums, loves to write and record music, and always leans toward hard rock. Joe has a passion for connecting young people with Jesus. Feel free to connect with Joe through Facebook , Twitter , his blog , or email him at [email protected]



  1. Guest Post: Kicking Off Another Student Ministry Year (Part 1) | INUMCconnect - […] shares 2 key events to get everyone informed and excited about the ministry year.  In the second post post, Joe …

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