Planning a session

INTRODUCTION

If you are involved in youth ministry you will often find that you need to plan for something that you are doing. It may be for a whole session with them, it may be a short talk, it may be a games evening, it may be a formal teaching context.

It is really important to do this in a considered way, having taken time to understand what you are hoping to do and how you are going to do it and not just cross your fingers and hope.

The planning doesn’t always have to take a long time to do, but it is beneficial and you will achieve more if you stop and consider what you are doing before you do it.

THEOLOGY

Whatever you are doing in youth ministry you want to be helping young people in the context of their faith journey.

To stop and consider what is being done is important, it allows God time to speak and lead and it means you are not haphazardly running around achieving very little.

Practicalities

When planning a session there are some important questions that you need to ask which will help to ensure you plan well.

  • Who is in the session?
  • What do I want them to know?
  • How can I help them to achieve this?

Who is in the session?

Things to take into account are the different types of young people who may be part of the group. Each of us are different, you have different personalities, you learn in different ways and you will all have had different life experiences which bring us to this point. It is impossible to cater for all of these, but you need to make sure you are being as inclusive as possible.

See Learning Styles for more information

What do I want them to know?

To set 2 or 3 aims for the session helps to keep focus and is also a good guide when evaluating how well the session has gone.

Depending on the setting, sometimes 1 aim will be enough, and 4 is the maximum you should have. It is tempting to try and achieve everything in every session which can lead to nothing being done very well.

How can I help them to achieve this?

This is where you can have a running order for your session. Your plan might be really detailed or perhaps more flexible, this is a personal choice and will be affected by the way you do things. Either is fine, and it is important that you do what works for you. It may be a list of headings for you to work to, or it may be a timed sheet.

REFLECTION & LEARNING

After you have delivered a session it is really important to assess and evaluate how the session has gone. The easiest way to do it is against your aims for the session.

It isn’t always the case that the session has failed if you don’t meet the aims. It may have been for a particular reason you needed to change the aims, or maybe on reflection the aims you had weren’t achievable.

Part of the evaluation should be saying what you did achieve so that this can be worked on for the next or another session.

See Evaluation for more information

DEVELOPING PRACTICE

Get in the habit of writing a session plan for everything you do with young people. Not just the ‘big’ sessions. When doing a short talk, or when you are meeting one to one with a young person. Making session plans a natural thing will help you do it instinctively.

Read back at what was planned last time and what was achieved before planning the next session. It will help with the flow from one session to the next for the young people who attend it.

If you work as a group of volunteers it is a good way of making sure you have some continuity in the sessions which are being delivered. You need to make sure you read the evaluation so you can plan well for the next session.

It is a good idea to have a proforma that you use to plan so that the habit of answering the questions becomes very natural. You don’t have to stick to the questions/headings that are suggested here, there are other models which you may find easier and more helpful to use

See Forming a Volunteer Agreement for more information

FURTHER INFORMATION

Burns J; The Youth Builder – Chapter 18, Principles for strategic programming

Daniel Beckett

My name is Daniel Beckett and I am the Children and Youth Pastor at Godmanchester Baptist Church. I am married to Hayley and have 3 children. I enjoy running, spending time with my family, and being on my allotment.

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