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5 Steps to Plan Church Events a Year in Advance

Church events can be incredibly valuable ministry tools, but they can also be costly and exhausting. However, there is a way to reap the benefits of hosting events without all the hassle - by planning...

Church events can be incredibly valuable ministry tools, but they can also be costly and exhausting. However, there is a way to reap the benefits of hosting events without all the hassle - by planning in advance. In fact, I highly recommend planning church events a year ahead.

No, I'm not suggesting creating a detailed to-do list a year in advance. Instead, it's wise to decide which events your church will host for the year. By doing this early on, your team will have ample time to brainstorm ideas, discuss the best timing for each event, and determine if spacing them out is necessary. From my own experience in event planning, conducting this exercise without time constraints helps everyone stay focused on the bigger picture.

Here's how you can get started planning church events a year ahead:

Step #1: Put Everything on the Calendar

Let's start with the fun part - get a huge wall calendar (erasable is best) and write down every event you intend to host in the upcoming year. Ask each ministry department leader to put their events on the calendar, and don't forget to include all other church-wide events.

Step #2: Organize a Calendar Review Meeting

Once you've compiled all the events on one calendar, it's essential to organize a calendar review meeting. This meeting should involve the participation of all ministry department leaders, the Executive Pastor, Senior Pastor, and ministry support department leaders such as Finance, Communications, and Facilities.

Step #3: Discuss the Calendar

During the calendar review meeting, delve into the details of each event you plan to host. Here are some questions to guide the discussion:

  • Have we hosted this event before? If so, was it successful? If not, why do we want to do it again?
  • Do we have too many events within a 4- to 6-week timeframe? If so, which ones can we move or eliminate if they aren't tied to a specific season or holiday?
  • What other events are taking place in our church or community that might conflict with any of these events? For example, is there a large charity race, fair, parade, or another significant event happening in the community? Are there any upcoming remodeling or building projects that could impact our ability to host an event during a specific timeframe? Also, consider the engagement of your congregation in church events during the summer months. Do most people take vacations, or do they stay in town? Keep these factors in mind before planning too many summer activities.

Step #4: Evaluate the Workload

Take a deeper dive into your review discussion by focusing on possible workload issues that could arise from hosting too many events. Consider the following questions:

  • If you have several events within a 4- to 6-week timeframe, do you have enough volunteers to cover them without overburdening them?
  • Does your staff have the capacity to handle the preparation for multiple events simultaneously? For example, can your Communications department create graphics, webpages, video announcements, and other promotional materials for multiple events concurrently? Even if many events are department-specific, supporting departments will often work on more than one event at a time.

Step #5: Consider the Budget

As you plan church events, it is crucial to consider the budget. Do you have a budget set (even if it's a draft) for each proposed event? If not, prepare those numbers before finalizing the calendar. You might discover that you don't have the necessary cash flow to support several events simultaneously. In that case, you may need to eliminate, scale back, or spread out the events.

Planning church events can be an enjoyable and bonding experience for your team, as long as you have enough time to savor it. If you're in need of a step-by-step guide to planning events, I'm here to help! Check out The Church Event Planning Toolkit book AND The Church Event Planning Course. These resources offer a proven, straightforward process that works for events with a few hundred to several thousand attendees. No need to waste time trying to figure it all out on your own. By following this process and utilizing the included templates, you can make hosting church events more successful and less stressful.

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