by Brett Prouty
Are you ready for the fall semester? Not a question we like to think about as we soak in every last bit of summer goodness the month of August has to offer. However, like it or not the winds of transition are starting to blow and it’s time to catch fresh vision for the fast approaching school year. It can be a daunting task to prepare for one the busiest times in ministry. Here are four things to do now so you can easily head into the swing of your school year schedule.
#1 Set your goals
What are your goals for this season with your students? Are there particular events, outreaches, or new aspects of ministry that you want to see happen? Planning these things out now, even tentatively, can make a world of difference when the realities and pace of the school year ambush you. This doesn’t mean that you have to have your entire fall schedule planned, but you should have an idea of where you are headed. Better to plan now then scramble later. The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty (Pro 21:5).
#2 Get into a routine before school starts
Start the programs and regular events that are going to be a part of your fall routine before school starts so that your students can build their schedules around them. [i] If your students know when your meetings and events are, they can register for classes around those times and you won’t be competing against Prof. Johnson’s Introduction to Ancient Pottery and Auto Mechanics. Studies show that it takes at least thirty days to form a habit. Give your students at least thirty days to get into the habit of attending your programs before their classes, homework, and fall schedules are competing for time in their schedule.
#3 Find leaders that will help lead through the fall semester
I have heard leaders of multiple different churches say that fall is the time of biggest growth and attendance in their church. This rings true with my own experiences. Our attendance has always been the greatest during the fall semester. There is no way for you to lead and meet the needs of every student in your ministry. You will need help and finding quality leaders, both student and adult, can take time. Making that effort now can save you from burning out trying to find them or trying to minister to every student yourself. Doing this now rather than later allows leaders time to adjust and schedule time that they need to prepare for leading each week. It also gives you some time to train them if needed. Getting students involved will also let them feel that they have some ownership of the ministry. This alone can be one of the greatest things that grows your students and ministry.
#4 Get students excited about the new season
Fill your students in on a few key events that you are going to hold in the coming semester. Get them excited about them. Building energy toward events early one can make the difference whether or not they will invite friends or if the event is something like a retreat whether they will have money for it or not. This also gives students something to look forward to when the stress and busyness[ii] of school sets in. …a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Pro. 13:12). As a student always looked forward to the fall retreat that we would have about a month after school started.
[i] When I was a student I used to hate it when our college group would start a regular event that conflicted with my class schedule. I used to try and justify reasons that I should skip class to attend a meeting or event. Help you students succeed and have a routine in place so they don’t have to skip class to go really awesome Bible study or 80’s Skate night.
[ii] Sometimes boredom