The summer Sundays are fast disappearing, and I’m spending my July weekdays designing event calendars and scope-and-sequence plans for youth groups that will start in about six weeks. It’s twelve years I’ve done this. The thing I’ve learned in that time is that you need these calendars and plans, badly, but you also need to not need them.
Without them it’s hard to plan, because these are not the only things you’re working on, and they’re not the only things youth and their families are planning for. It seems parents need these things earlier and earlier, and in fact the end of July feels late. But apart from the scheduling demands, you need a scope-and-sequence so that each week fits into a larger framework of activity–teaching, community building, service. Doing this year-to-year prevents a kind of default “We’re only ever do X” type of program.
And yet you need to not need these plans and calendars. A vibrant ministry is capable of spontaneity, not chained to a calendar. If students become energized around an idea in February, you need to be able to work with it, even if the plan was for something else.
“Know the rules well enough to break them effectively” is one of my favorite sayings. It works for plans too: make a clear enough calendar and plan that you can change it effectively.