Ever planned a high-quality event with low-quantity attendance numbers? What went wrong? A youth leader once said that all students are ultimately asking: “Why is it worth my time?” If we don’t do a great job of answering that, much of what we plan is in vain.
Over time, our group has figured out some strategies that work well. To illustrate, I’ll walk you through what we do leading up to Dare 2 Share LIVE. We follow three main steps to make it a powerful and well-attended experience.
- Initiate excitement.
- Invite others.
- Increase ownership.
Here’s how it looks:
At least a month before Dare 2 Share LIVE, I start casting the vision for the event to our students. Then I promote it again every week leading up to it, using a variety of methods. A few examples:
- Plan fun games and activities to accompany the event and talk them up to students.
- Communicate that it will be meaningful and fun.
- Promise free food (we use Chick-fil-A, of course).
- Give away custom-made T-shirts or swag.
- Offer a snack bar at the event for them to buy inexpensive snacks and drinks.
- Promote the event extensively to parents as well.
- Promote heavily within your church body.
- Put together and consistently show a recap video from the previous year’s LIVE event (or a similar-style event).
- Post the video and other D2S LIVE graphics (available on the portal after you sign up) on social media.
- Here’s an example of a hype video we made to fire up our group. We also offer it to other groups in the area that will be joining us.
Early on, I challenge students to consider which friends they can invite to D2S LIVE, and I coach them to make sure they give their friends an accurate picture of what to expect, including the fun aspects. I encourage you to consider also inviting your senior pastor, other staff members, elders, potential future volunteers, or members of the young adult community at your church.
Several weeks before the event, I also invite a number of local churches in my community to join us, and I‘ve received a great response. Now others are hearing about it and want to join us too. In your community, you might also want to invite campus organizations to participate with you. You could even consider asking some of these partners to own a portion of the event, such as providing the worship team, planning games, or organizing the outreach. This year, I even created a website to make it easier to communicate. Check it out here.
The next major aspect to think through is building ownership with your group. One way I do that is by asking students to prep decorations and signs before the event. I make a rough plan and gather materials, and they outline, trace, and paint large sign boards that we hang around the building.
The week of D2S LIVE, I invite students to set up and decorate our building for it—including chalk art outside, signs, etc., and I sweeten the deal by offering free Chick-fil-A for those who help. At the end of the event, we have students sign the large boards and hang them in our student area as a reminder of all that God did in and through our lives during the event.
You can also give away ownership as you prepare your outreach. Recruit students, parents, or partner ministries who are passionate about organizing or food preparation to help if you are hosting a block party. For those who don’t mind some manual labor, you can delegate tasks such as delivering canned food to a food bank, if that’s what your outreach entails.
These steps we take for D2S LIVE can work for just about any event you’re planning. They might sound like a lot of work—and they are, but the payoff comes when students buy into your vision and even help make it happen. As Colossians 3:23 says:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…
If we work at preparing and promoting our events as if working for the Lord, we’ll have the privilege of seeing even more lives transformed by the power of the Gospel—and that’s worth it!