The church calendar is organized around two seasons that are typically the most fruitful: Spring and Fall. Those two seasons are the heave-ho of your ministry calendar. During those seasons, it’s easier and more effective to organize everyone to push and pull together to include, invite, and involve new people in your church’s ministry.
While Summer is usually quiet and Winter is taken up with holidays, Spring and Fall are full of local activity. Kids are in school and families tend to travel less during these seasons. That means they’re attending church and serving more consistently.
Fewer distractions means more opportunity for you to bring your crew together. Smart churches take the opportunity during these seasons to consolidate involvement opportunities. That means more focus on serving, parental involvement in children and youth ministry, and committing to attend church.
Growing churches know how to make the most of the Fall season every year. They use it as a catapult to launch into Christmas events, to bolster commitment from existing members, and to encourage disengaged or unengaged visitors to invest through serving. Prayerfully, they plan their Fall with an eye toward sustainable growth.
Here’s how you can plan your Fall to make the most of the moment.
Know Your Community’s Calendar
Before you make any plans that involve a calendar, you need to know what’s going on in your community. Is there a big concert or fair opening on the same night you’re planning a training meeting? Yeah, that training meeting is going to be empty.
Armed with knowledge of what you’re people are going to be involved in, you can make better decisions. You can work around big community events or use them to leverage your own initiatives. You may even find opportunities to invest in your community as part of your Fall plans.
Plan It Together
Your ministry leaders need to do this together. It can’t be done separately and then reconciled later. Get your ministry department heads all in one room. Put a big calendar on the wall. Then go to town adding events to the wall calendar.
If you don’t get them together for this process, you will invariably end up with a disjointed Fall schedule. There will be overlapping events. Ministries will be competing for “stage time”. And ministry silos will be further established.
Put Absolutely Everything on the Central Calendar
Your central ministry calendar is the nerve center for everything happening in your church. If you don’t have a central calendar, I feel bad for you.
Everything should go on the central calendar. Sermon series/titles, church-wide spiritual initiatives, youth group events, community outreach, facility maintenance or remodeling projects, fundraisers…everything.
Look for Ways to Synergize Efforts Between Ministries
One reason to put everything on one central calendar is to find ways to maximize efforts across ministry areas. For example, imagine the impact you can make by syncing your sermon series about serving others with a community outreach initiative, a youth group local missions event, and small group Bible study curriculum on loving your neighbor!
This kind of effort to work together can only happen when you’re all in the same room and you’re all thinking and prepared for ministry planning. This kind of thing can’t happen in a weekly staff meeting.
Consider How Everything Will Be Communicated
One of the biggest challenges of packing your Fall planning with high-value, ministry-synced initiatives is communicating all the greatness. When you have a lot going on, how do you choose what to talk about, when to talk about it, and which things get highest priority?
Part of your Fall planning absolutely needs to include a communication plan. Once your events and initiatives are laid out on a calendar, take the next step to decide what gets communicated from different channels (platform, email, bulletin, etc), when that communication starts for each thing, and who is responsible for details of those communication pieces.
Plan Your pre-Fall preparation, Too
Putting everything on the calendar is only one part of your pre-Fall preparation. Now that you know what you’re doing and how you’re going to tell everyone about it, it’s time to get people involved.
Fall is often the prime time of year to get fringe church folks to invest in serving and group participation. Studies show that people who participate beyond the worship service stick around much longer than people who only attend services.
Build in opportunities during the Summer for people to join groups that they can start in the Fall. Don’t be afraid to ask people to serve starting in the Fall. After all, you have a good excuse with all the new ministry happening and families coming back. You’re gonna need help!
Lock It Down
The plan is laid out. The team is on board. Your Fall is planned so tightly that if one thing shifts, things start falling like dominos.
It’s time to lock it down. Once it’s set, it doesn’t move without an act of God moving it. You have to commit to the plan you’ve made understanding that God was directing your planning.
“What God has joined together, let no man separate.” Yes, I know that’s talking about marriage, but God joined your Fall plan together, too. I say the principle is still relevant.