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How To Choose The Right Theme For Your Youth Ministry

It’s a brand new year or a new season and you want to kick it off right, right? Part of the process might be to choose a theme. A theme is nothing more than a track for your ministry to run on. Your theme can be your vision. Your theme can last a month to set the tone or you theme can run all year and be integrated into every part of your ministry. So, how do you come up with a good theme?

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It may be a word, a phrase, or even a photo that may click with you. The time to think, look around and wonder about what God wants to do in the hearts of your students.

Themes, in my opinion, are meant to inspire people to

  • think
  • dream
  • act
  • donate
  • pledge

Themes are also meant to define

  • our identity
  • our cause
  • our community
  • our leader
  • our services
  • our products

What do we offer and what word, phrase, or picture best relays that thought or concept to our youth group.

There’s a difference between a theme and a cheesy slogan. A slogan is a short term word, it means “buy now” or “vote for this”. A slogan has a time stamp on it like Driving Excitement, Make America Great Again, Change You Can Believe In, etc. Slogans, once used up go in the time capsule never to be seen a gain except for nostalgia sake.

A theme, on the other hand, means long term. A theme says, this is who we are now, tomorrow and maybe forever. Our themes in ministry are eternal. Themes can bear an eternal message, like one we chose one year for our youth ministry: Follow. This theme will always have relevance because it’s a biblical principle and humanity is always looking for someone to follow. Jesus called people to follow him back then and He continues to call people to follow today.

A good theme should,

Inspire enthusiasm

Inspiration may come though a picture, saying, etc but it must evoke something. It must cause our students to dig deeper and think of not just the how to, the application of how do I get into the rhythm of, or go along with this theme but the implications of this theme. I want them to ask “How can I live out this theme?”

Influence our planning

I have been taking kids to the same statewide retreat for 15 years and this year that will change. The yearly retreat is a good one and it always has a great speaker and small groups but this year has to be different. I need to kick off this year with our theme to our kids motived about what’s happening in our own youth group and not do it just to support a statewide event from our denomination.

Shift our budget

I will be putting money into more resources that will feed our theme and into more activities that reflect our theme. So much of our budget is wasted on randomness and then, at the end of the year, we ask where it all went and what did it accomplish.

Be a part of our promotional pieces

Our promotional pieces for our youth ministry will have the flavor of our theme: Follow. Our invite cards to midweek may say Follow Me To The Best Night Of Your Life and our Discipleship promo will be Follow 5: The Five Attributes Of A Follower Of Jesus. Choosing the right graphics is a small, but important piece of the puzzle. Bad graphics, flyers hand outs, and posters, will not catch eyes or hearts.

For how to make cool graphics you can check out my tutorials for Canva and Adobe Spark 

Here’s a tip on how to use video for advertising 

Reflect in our youth room

I am blessed to have a young man who has some great artistic ability. I have asked him to create something for one of our walls. I have no idea what it will look like yet, but I know it is going to be awesome because it will be an element in our room created by one of our students and will reject our theme for the year.

For more youth room ideas, check out my YouTube Playlist on Youth Room Design 

A good theme will inspire your your youth group to reach up to God for strength, reach in to move around some of the “heart furniture” to reflect that theme in their daily lives and to reach out to others to invite and include other so join what God has put in your heart.

Your Turn 

Do you have a theme for next year or a slogan? How do you know?

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