Ready or not, 2017 is here…

Hopefully you’ve got some extra time off (or at least some slower days) between Christmas and the New Year’s celebrations. Here are some tips on how to make that time count toward starting 2017 off right.

How Was This Year?

What happened worth celebrating? What didn’t happen you wish had? What were your biggest challenges? How did God just show off? Did your ministry grow numerically? How much? The beginning of the year is a good time to evaluate everything…including yourself.

How Are You Doing?

I think it’s important we ask our spouses, our parents, and even our kids what they’re seeing in us.

  • Send volunteers a questionnaire asking them to join you in prayer and daydreaming about the New Year and your ministry.
  • Give your spouse permission to ask you some tough questions.
  • Ask students what they’re loving and what they’re not feeling so much.
  • Take some time before you flip the calendar and find out how you’re doing in other people’s opinion. Have you gotten complacent? Are you burning the candle at both ends and need a breather? Do volunteers feel supported? Do mentors have access to you to speak into your life and ministry?

Pray a Ton About What’s Next

Take a day to get alone and seek God. Pray about your own heart and life. If you’re a parent, pray for your kids. If you’re married, pray for your spouse. Pray you’d prioritize ministry at home above ministry at church. Pray your heart would be right before God. Just spend some time praying and listening from God’s Word. Abide.

Start Planning

Sure, you’ve done some planning already, but sit down and sketch it out. What are the big rocks in the bucket? When is summer camp? When is the kickoff? When are your mission trips? Once the big rocks are in, you can back off those and start thinking about preparation and communication. There are so many tools available to help you do this in the youth ministry community. Google it.

After you do it for the whole year, do it for each month. Break down the months into weeks. You’ll start to see the ebb and flow of your year and that will be helpful with the final two steps.

Plan to Rest

After you’ve sketched out your year, divide up your vacation time. I try to do a week in the spring, one at the end of the summer, and one around Christmas. If you don’t feel like there’s anywhere to take that time, then you’re doing too much. Make time. Schedule it. Don’t let anything move it. After you’ve done that for the year, do it for the month. Where can you fit in a half day for prayer and Bible reading? Now do it weekly. Plan — schedule it on your calendar — to take a day off every week.

If you don’t plan to rest, you won’t. So schedule it.

Plan to Plan

If your head is now spinning with how much you have to do for 2017 during the last week of 2016, then you need to plan on planning sooner next year. As a general rule, we have our teaching series planned 9-12 months in advance in both our midweek and Sunday programs. I know what our three mission trips are for next year. We know when and where we’re doing camp in the summer of 2017. If you don’t know those things yet, no biggie. But make plans to plan. Find time in your schedule earlier in 2017 to start planning 2018.

You’ve heard the old adage — failing to plan is planning to fail.

Keep up the great Kingdom worker, sisters and brothers.

Happy New Year!

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About The Author

Titus Benton is in his 17th year of student ministry. He currently serves at Current - A Christian Church in Katy, Texas, where he's never left a student in a different state and officially has sworn off all-nighters. Connect via Twitter @TitusLive or at

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