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How to make a teaching plan for youth ministry

One of the most challenging plans to make for a new season of youth ministry is a teaching plan. Yet it’s also the most rewarding one, both spiritually and in terms of stress reduction. First, let’s have a look at some of the benefits of making a teaching plan. Then we’ll discuss how to actually make one for your youth ministry.

The benefits of a teaching plan

I admit: I’m a planner, so making plans and planning in advance comes natural to me. Yet I’m convinced of the benefits of a teaching plan for every youth ministry. Here’s why:

  • It prevents you from last minute stress, trying to figure out what to teach on
  • It prevents you from teaching the same (familiar) topics each year because you lack inspiration at the moment you need to come up with a topic
  • It ensures more variety, because you can take the time to come up with topics and passages from the entire Bible instead of just the books or passages you’re familiar with
  • It gives more depth to your Bible studies and sermons, as you have more time to prepare
  • It creates clarity for guest speakers because you can ask them to preach on a certain topic or passage in advance, thereby giving them time to prepare properly as well
  • You can let Bible studies, sermons and anything else you teach reinforce each other by painting the bigger picture instead of just picking random topics that students can’t connect within the bigger story of the Bible
  • You can select your topics and passages in such a way as to stress an overall message, theme or the gospel, therefore being way more intentional in your teaching

small group

How to make a teaching plan

You can make teaching plans for every year or youth ministry season, but you could even make them for a longer period of two to four years. The key is to determine topics, knowledge and/or skills you feel students need to know and develop in the years they spend in your middle school or high school ministry. To do that, you need to brainstorm this issue with your leaders and volunteers. Where are you students now in their spiritual journey (generally speaking of course, not all of them will be at the same point) and what do they need to grow, to take it to the next level?

You could also pick a central theme for a year and develop a teaching plan around that. We did that one year with ‘young people in the Bible’ and chose to teach on Gideon, the young David, Esther, Josiah, Timothy, etc, both in our small group studies and in youth services. It worked out really well! If you do a central theme, not everything has to fit into that theme. We had certain topics that came back every year or every other year no matter what our theme was, like sex, addictions, prayer, Bible reading, relationships, etc.

Don’t forget to actually ask your students what topics they’d be interested in, they may just surprise you with some relevant suggestions. We did this a couple of times and two topics always scored: the end times and sex (we started joking that we should do a series on sex in the end times – it’d be a huge hit!). Other topics that were mentioned were ‘being a Christian at school’ and ‘how to know what God wants for your life’. Good stuff!

What you want to accomplish is also closely related to the mission and vision of your youth ministry. If discipleship is your youth ministry’s primary focus for instance, that would result in a different teaching plan than that for a youth ministry with evangelism as it’s core activity. So again, it starts with developing a clear mission and vision and everything else comes from there.

If you have your theme, list of topics, etc, just determine specific topics and passages for every teaching moment you have in your youth ministry, from small group studies to youth services or other events. Don’t see this a plan you cannot break. When circumstances demand it, you can always deviate from the plan. We’ve had to do this because of personal circumstances for instance, or certain developments in our church. That’s fine, see your teaching plan as a plan, not as an iron cage you can’t break out of.

Do you work with a teaching plan? If so, for how long a period is it and how did you come up with the content?

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0 thoughts on “How to make a teaching plan for youth ministry

  1. I plan in seasons – Sept to Dec, Jan to May, and summer. When I’m working on my teaching plan I try to balance lessons between teaching a specific doctrine, working through a book or character study, and doing a series on felt-needs/stage of life stuff.

    1. That’s a good idea to balance different kinds of topics like that, thanks for sharing!

  2. I usually plan out the year but will do it in big blocks (in August 4 week series on relationships with parents). Then every quarter define the big blocks to determine scripture and thesis of each lesson.

  3. […] Teaching plan for both the youth services and the small groups […]

  4. […] time to develop plans with everyone involved. They could be vision statements, teaching plans, strategic plans, operational year plans, social media plans, youth ministry training plans or a […]

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