7 Ideas for Your Fall Youth Kickoff

As the summer closes and the school year kicks off (in just two weeks for us here in Indiana!), many youth ministries have the tradition of doing some kind of a fall kick off. Having a fall kick off marks the transition from summer to the school year, which is needed since many families take the summer “off” of church. Having a kickoff allows youth ministries to start the year with a fresh start and renewed energy, Here are seven ideas to get you thinking about yours!

Kick off the Year with Service

In my experience, students are more likely to show up when there is a service project than when there is a party. So what if you made your first meeting together a service project? You could do a canned goods or school supplies drive, pack backpacks for a nearby school, bake cookies for local teachers, or do a project with any of your church’s service partners.

Kick off the Year with Parents

Those first few weeks of the year are the most engaged weeks, so it’s a perfect opportunity to use that steam to meet with parents. Host a parents meeting, or offer some dedicated times for parents to meet with you. I’ve often offered “Parent-Pastor Conferences” with a Calendly link where parents can sign up for a time to meet via Zoom or in person.

Kick off the Year with Swag

Handing your youth stickers, tees, water bottles, or anything else that has your youth logo on it is a great way to build excitement — plus it’s free advertisement! If you have a small group, ask a friend with a Cricut to help you make some custom stuff on objects that you buy from Dollar Tree or Amazon.

Kick off the “New Year” with a Party

One of my favorite things to do is to have a “new year’s” party for my students. If you plan in advance, you buy things on clearance from a party store from the January before. Of course, Amazon will always have New Year’s Decor. Wear party hats, blow on kazoos, and invite students to create “New Year’s Resolutions.”

Kick off the Year at School

Offer to meet with students on the first day of school near their campus. Provide some food and pray for their school year. It will be powerful for them to look around remember that they already have friends at school.

Kick off the Year with Prayer

Starting the year off with prayer can be really powerful. Set up some different prayer stations around your youth space, and invite students to pray for the schools in your area, the teachers and administrators who attend your church, etc. Or, consider doing a prayer walk of a high school campus nearby.

Kick off the Year with a Calendar

Provide your youth and parents with a calendar of the upcoming year. If you are unsure of how to create a calendar, one of my favorite resources is using Grow Curriculum’s Planning Meeting. Outline events, days you’re taking off due to holidays, and if you’re able include dates for next summer’s camps and mission trips. I encourage you to print your calendar on a postcard or postcard-sized magnet so that it stays on families’ refrigerators!

Having a fall kickoff provides an opportunity to gather young people together, connect with them, and create a sense of excitement and anticipation for the upcoming year. What are you doing to kick off the new year?

Heather Lea Kenison

Heather serves as the Diocesan Youth Minister of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, where she lives with her husband and three pet children. Heather is the Founder of Women in Youth Ministry and is passionate about women finding community so that their voices will be heard. A certified leadership coach, Heather’s first love is youth ministry and her second love is youth ministers.

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