3 Big Ideas for Keeping Your Ministry Rhythm this Winter

November 4th, 2016

We all need more rhythm.

I’m not talking about the kind of rhythm that makes us good at singing and clapping at the same time…or the kind that makes us cool youth pastors that can beatbox.

I’m talking about the rhythm of our youth ministry schedules.

If you think about it, youth ministry needs rhythm. Take fall and winter for example…

In the fall, we kick off a new school year, and everything is fresh and new. We attract students to our programs with big kick-off nights and use that momentum to keep them coming back every week.

And then the holidays hit.

Goodbye momentum.

Goodbye rhythm.

The rhythm of the fall gives way to a slower, interrupted season of youth ministry in the winter. Youth group nights are a little hit and miss due to things like holidays, winter break, and even bad weather. And, we see students quickly lose the habit of meeting together.

So, what do we do to keep the rhythm? How can we carry the momentum of fall into winter?

Chances are good that your youth ministry context is not exactly the same as mine, but there are some big, transferable ideas that I think we all can share as we get closer to the winter months.

Here is a handful of winter programming ideas for youth ministry that may just be what you need to keep that rhythm and momentum going into the spring:

Serve together.

You may find that trying to schedule a regular youth group night in late November or early December is tricky.  But, if you use a youth group night to serve your community, you may accomplish something greater than just meeting together in the youth room with the kids who have nothing better to do.  Students like to serve…especially around the holidays.  So leverage that, and plan a night of service together.

Here are a few ideas…
  • Volunteer at a local agency that works with the homeless and serve a meal together.
  • Find out who the widows and widowers are in your church and go caroling at their houses.
  • Write Christmas cards to the men and women in your church who are serving in the military.

Have fun together.

The holidays provide some great opportunities for fun youth group activities.  Think about how you can use Thanksgiving and Christmas to program a fun event night into your youth ministry schedule.

Here are a few ideas…
  • Throw a youth group Christmas party at a student’s house or some place that’s big enough for the size of your group…and make it an ugly sweater night or do a white elephant gift exchange game.
  • Do a “Where’s Santa?” scavenger hunt in a local mall (think “Where’s Waldo?” here).
  • Find a good sledding hill and have a “glow-in-the-dark” sledding night with glo-sticks.

Relaunch together. 

Typically, we take a couple of weeks off of youth ministry during Christmas break.  This isn’t a bad thing…you need your rest.  And, students can use the break too.  The challenge has always been then…how do we get our momentum back after the holidays?  Try to think of the first few weeks of January like you think of the first few weeks of September.  Basically, what you are trying to do in January is relaunch your youth ministry.  Because, you want that same momentum you had when you launched everything off back in September.

Here are a few ideas…
  • Plan a winter retreat or a big relaunch event for the early part of January.
  • Create weekly youth group competitions between the classes and offer a big prize to the winning class at the last youth group in January.
  • Use the timing of the new year in how you develop your teaching theme in January…you might encourage students to think about who they want to be in the new year or what hitting the reset button might look like for them in the new year.  Or, you could even go back to the basics and talk about the need we all have for Jesus to make us new.

These are just a handful of ideas for keeping the rhythm and momentum that we often get in the fall in youth ministry and carrying it with us into the winter.

What’s worked for you?  What have you done that’s helped you keep your ministry rhythm during the winter months?  

jasonJason Matthews is a youth pastor in Washington state, where he’s been serving students for over 20 years.  When he doesn’t have to be in the office, he loves to be outside with his family, hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest.  He also loves to write, and you can find more of what he writes about at one of his blogs (www.verseotheweek.wordpress.com & www.pjasonmatthews.wordpress.com).


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.