Every Church Needs an Annual Calendar

Too many of us react to what’s on the calendar, saying things like, “Man, that event just snuck up on me.” We move from special service to special event at a backbreaking pace. We come up with new ideas, programs, events and ministries that will help us reach the community and grow the church.

The problem occurs when our events and ideas don’t fit in with the larger context of ministry and what happens in the church on a regular basis. Instead of consntaly planning new events, you need an annual calendar – an at-a-glance look at ALL of the events and special things that happen in your church every year.

I’m not talking about getting the next few months planned out – there’s a little value in that. But you’ll see tremendous value and synergy from looking at the year as a whole. What happens church-wide in January, and how does it lead into February? What should all of our ministries be doing the month after Easter. When can we give that big event the three weeks of focus it needs?

Wrestle through the big-picture calendar and the day-to-day stuff will make more sense.

If this sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry. A ready to use template is a part of Docs and Forms - an instant download with more than 120 documents you can customize and use in your church. It will save you a ton of time.  And if it’s not what you expected, just let me know and I’ll give you a refund.

Here’s a complete list of all the editable documents you’ll get:

  • Administration Documents:  Annual CalendarBoard of DirectorsBylaws,Calendar RequestCounseling Confidentiality AgreementCounseling Referrals,Event Planning ChecklistHead Count SheetOrdinationStaff Retreat OverviewStatement of BeliefsTravel GuidelinesTerminologyWeekend ProcessChurch Planting Philosophy, Church Health Report, Core Values
  • Facility Documents:  Closing Policies and ProceduresFacility Use and Rental PolicyFacility Use Request Form, Building Policies and ProceduresKey and Security System AcknowledgementWedding Policies
  • Family Ministry Documents:  Family Ministry Volunteer Application, Oak Leaf Kids Volunteer Policies and ProceduresOak Leaf Kids Parent Handbook,Pro-Kids PhilosophyFamily Dedication PhilosophyStudent Ministry Philosophy, Release Form
  • Connections Documents: Baptism Monthly Checklist, Membership Philosophy and ApplicationDiscipleship OverviewBaptism Process,Congratulatory Baptism LetterFirst Time Giver Follow Up ProcessFirst Time Guest Follow Up Process, Giver and Guest Letters, New Christian Process, Three Ways to Get Connected
  • Creative Arts Documents: Guest Musician ExpectationsGuide to the Giving Talk with Giving Talk IdeasGuide to the WelcomeWelcome Philosophy, Intern Responsibilities/ExpectationsSeries Graphic NeedsSeries Launch Checklist,Series Planning ChecklistStyle GuideService Planning PhilosophyWeekend Master Schedule, Worship Leader/Musician Expectations
  • Financial Documents: Benevolence PolicyBudgeting ProcessChart of AccountsFinance Team Job DescriptionHousing Allowance for Pastors,Offering Count SheetsPurchase Order WorksheetReimbursement Form,Spending ProceduresBudget Philosophy
  • Staff Documents: 6-Month Evaluation360 Degree EvaluationBlank Housing Allowance FormConfidentiality AgreementEmployee HandbookEmployee Handbook AgreementEmployment ApplicationFiring ProcessHiring Process,Interview QuestionsMonthly Staff EvaluationNew Hire ChecklistProspective Employee ScreeningResignation AgreementSocial Media PolicyStaff Job Descriptions, Leadership Development Plan, Staff Leave Request Staff, Organizational Chart, Termination Agreement, Org Chart
  • Volunteer Documents: Guest Services HandbookHuddle GuideVolunteer LanyardsParking Handbook, Parking MapSecurity Policies and Procedures,Volunteer Job DescriptionsVolunteer Team Organizational Structure, Small Group Handbook
Get Docs and Forms now and take a huge step towards creating healthy systems.

Add to Cart

Case Study: A Dance Studio

A few months ago, I started offering consulting services to small businesses. I wanted to leverage my experience in launching something, attracting people, raising money, and building a team to help people.

One of my first clients was a dance studio. Over the course of two personal meetings, several follow up emails, and the completion of some projects, we were able to address:

  • New ways to attract customers during “off-peak” sign up times.
  • The creation of an annual calendar to drive events, marketing and planning.
  • Branding and design tweaks.
  • Email marketing to the existing database.

We discussed many ideas the the business owner implemented a few. She spent less than $1,000.

The result is a 20% increase in enrollment over this time last year. By the end of the year, enrollment should grow to 300 students, which would be about 25% more than a year ago.  Increased enrollment obviously means increased revenue.

Some of the things I’ve learned will absolutely translate to your business. If you’re interested in getting more customers or clients, increasing revenue, or systematizing what you do so it doesn’t feel crazy, visit the consulting page and let’s talk.

A Few Free Things

I was cleaning up my dropbox folders and found some stuff in the public folder that I thought I would share with you.

Hope something in here helps you today.

Schedule a Workshop for You and Your Team

I added a new page at the top of this blog describing four workshops I’ve developed for you and your team. Those workshops are:

  • The Right Seat on the Bus: You and your team will walk away with clear and meaningful job descriptions and knowledge of how their bottom line affects the overall mission of the church.  Get your staff on the same page.
  • Annual Series Planning: We’ll spend our time together looking at content, brainstorming ideas, and placing everything on a calendar. You’ll walk away with a teaching plan for the upcoming year.
  • Creating an Annual Calendar: After a few pre-workshop assignments, we’ll lay out all the major activities and events on a master calendar. You’ll walk away with a plan for the year, and your entire team will know when to talk about what.
  • Structuring Your Volunteer Teams for Maximum Impact: In this workshop, you will learn ways to attract, develop and KEEP volunteers across all of your ministries. You’ll walk away from this workshop with a volunteer team structure that makes sense and a written job description for every key volunteer position.

For more information on these workshops and to get answers to your frequently asked questions, visit the workshop page.

Creating an Annual Calendar

Running your organization off an annual calendar will keep you from reacting to short term problems and it will keep your team on the same page. There’s a reason major motion pictures create a production schedule before they start filming and why Apple makes announcements at the WWDC every year. Your church, business or non-profit, needs an annual calendar, based on repeating events and programs.

SIX REASONS TO CREATE AN ANNUAL CALENDAR

  1. Success is best measured over time.
  2. Life has a natural rhythm.
  3. There is power in tradition.
  4. Repetition leads to improvement.
  5. Patterns will keep things from sneaking up on you.
  6. A calendar will keep you from competing with yourself.

Read more about those reasons in this post.

In the church world, you’ve got to find a way to keep the student ministry from competing with the groups ministry in August. You’ve got to plan ahead so the outreach campaign doesn’t go head to head with a push for new volunteers. Decide IN ADVANCE when you’re going to talk about what…lay it out on a calendar and get organized.

WHEN TO TALK ABOUT WHAT

This list might be totally backwards for your setting, but you’ll get the idea. This same principle also applies to businesses and non-profits…you can’t talk about all the things at all the times. You need an annual calendar to guide your planning and communication.

  1. In May, you should spend 3-4 weeks encouraging people to give online. Since summer is coming, helping people automate the important will make a difference to every ministry.
  2. In August, you should encourage everyone to get into a small group of some sort. This means that you’re not going to be pushing people to online giving.
  3. In September, your children’s and student ministry need church-wide communication time because it’s back to school season. This means that you aren’t going to talk so much about adult groups.
  4. In October, you should do leadership training for new volunteers, so they will be ready to serve across all ministries in January.
  5. In March, you’re talking about inviting (Easter is around the corner), so you should talk about this across every ministry.

TWO STEP PROCESS FOR CREATING AN ANNUAL CALENDAR

  1. Schedule a half-day with all of your staff or key leaders. You need one person from each department.
  2. Work on the calendar TOGETHER. Argue, debate and discuss. And in the end, agree on a calendar.

This isn’t complicated, and if you do it, it could revolutionize your ministry and make planning SO much easier. Here’s a simple Excel spreadsheet to jump start the planning process for your team.

Why You Need an Annual Calendar

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a small business owner to help her focus on reaching more customers.  Part of our conversation centered on the creation of an annual calendar.  I’m not talking about a calendar for the year, I’m talking about a repeating, annual calendar with events or programs that are repeated every year. I’m talking about planning with an eye on multiple years, not just the current season.

Whether you lead a business, church or non-profit, you can benefit from having an annual calendar.  Here are six reasons why:

1. Success is best measured over time. Doing something one time might not give you a true indicator of success for your organization. First year churches and organizations shouldn’t put too much stock into first year numbers, because they aren’t real. You’ve got to get a little bigger and measure things over a longer time period.

2. Life has a natural rhythm. Whether it’s the back to school season, the Christmas holidays, or the early emergence of spring, life has a season just like the weather. You’re wise to understand the seasons of your industry and plan accordingly. Great leaders don’t just react to the current season, but intentionally build a calendar knowing how to connect the dots. People in your organization or community understand the rythym or life…stop trying to fight it.

3. There is power in tradition. When it comes to organizations, traditionalism is bad but tradition is good. When you do some of the same things year after year, you build a story. “Ladies and gentlemen…start your engines” – that’s a tradition. So are Christmas Eve Family Candlelight services and the staff olympics. Annual picnics, big events, and company retreats can go a long way towards building a culture. Don’t be so quick to discount the meaning of tradition, and all traditions are not sacred cows. Not only should you appreciate traditions, you should leverage them.

4. Repetition leads to improvement. When you do something once, you don’t really know if it worked. For example, after a near disastrous Easter outreach event, our entire team would have supported the idea of killing the event. But after a few evaluation meetings, we decided that we could make some adjustments. As a leader, I committed to host the large-scale event one more time before making the final decision. The following year, attendance was lower but the event was smoother. We worked out the kinks and the event lasted a total of five years. Had we pulled the plug after the initial flop, we would have not been able to gauge the true effectiveness.

5. Patterns will keep things from sneaking up on you. When people say, “that just snuck up on me,” they generally mean, “I am disorganized and wasn’t paying attention.” So stop reacting to whatever is current and start planning in bulk. Plan the year out in advance, and know when it’s time to start working on something. When you plan an annual calendar, you’ll know what’s going on in June and July. And after a few seasons, advance planning will become second nature.

6. A calendar will keep you from competing with yourself. Churches are among the worst culprits when it comes to internal competition. It’s routine for people to be encouraged to get in a small group, sign up for a mission trip, bring in school supplies, set up online giving, and volunteer in their kid’s class….all on one Sunday. What is your church emphasizing in the month of October? Are there strategic times for groups emphasis, where other ministries can chill out on the public communication? When you get your entire team in the room and work on the big-picture calendar, you’ll stop stepping on each other’s toes and stop confusing your people with multiple action steps.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you some specific examples.