Even for those with mad detail skills, planning a servant event can be a daunting task. What to do? How much will it cost? How do I communicate with parents? Will it be lame? Will students actually take something away? How will I know if it’s “successful”? The questions alone can send you into a panic attack.
Being part of planning serving experiences for over 12 years, I can say that if you allow the planning to control you, it will. But have no fear–the planning process doesn’t need to control you! Four things:
- Pray. Prayer focuses your trust in the One who does control not only the planning process, but the experience itself. Bathe your planning process in Scripture and prayer, and the Holy Spirit will guide you in the mercy of Christ.
- Look. Look around and ask yourself and your team, “what is God already up to in our group”? Maybe your church or some students are already connected to a potential way to serve at a local shelter, group or organization(that’s the easy way!). Maybe God has given a student or two a desire to serve the homeless. Maybe you have adopted a child through Compassion International or World Vision and you’d like to meet him or her. Perhaps a disaster like a hurricane, flood or earthquake stirs your heart and mobilizes your group to respond in compassion. If you look around, you probably will find elderly men and women who need assistance with their homes and/or a friendly visit. Take a “mission vacation” together to a place the group has always wanted to go (like NYC!). Go there, but intentionally plan to serve each morning at a soup kitchen, blessing businesses or prayer walking before you go have fun. Look around and see what God is pointing out–that will give you a direction.
- Pay attention to details. They say that the devil is in the details–and it’s true. Make sure that you have accurate costs for travel. If you’re flying, make sure that you include baggage fees. If you’re driving, make sure you have enough seats with room to spare for luggage, tools and whatever else you might need. Make sure the adults on the trip are background checked and everyone has a liability waiver form (check with your Board of Directors or your designated Human Resources person). With students, having a detailed schedule (to the minute) helps–but be flexible because you never know what God is going to do!
- Communicate. Let’s face it. You can plan the best servant event, but if you can’t communicate it clearly to parents and students, it will never get off the ground. Posters around your church will bring great awareness (probably even more to adults who aren’t going, but can get excited with your students). Never underestimate the power of the personal invitation through a phone call, cup of coffee or short conversation. Always have a next step ready (an application, an amount for a deposit or a “this is what you need to tell your parents” speech). And never make the mistake of assuming the student is telling his or her parent(s). Often times, communication is more for the parents than for the student. Remember, the goal with communication is to keep parents informed and give them a sense that their child will have a faith-filled, safe experience serving others like Jesus.
Use this Planning Master List spreadsheet to help in your planning. Take note of the different tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet. Make any changes needed to suit your group.