1) Start with the big picture. Look at the vision of your ministry and use it to set goals for the year (use our Ministry Goal Setting Guide to help). Then create calendar events that help you accomplish those goals. Our goals give us the direction and boundaries for our calendar. Write down all the big, important, we-do-them-every-year, this-isn’t-going-to-change-unless-the-rapture-happens dates first (Easter, Christmas, church-wide events) so you can plan around those. Also make note of the seasons of busy-ness for your families so you can be mindful of events during those seasons.
2) Narrow down the details. Now that you have the big picture planned, work backward to fill in the details. How can you set yourself up for success with each major event on your calendar? Add planning checkpoints or due dates in your calendar for each major event. For example, if VBS happens the first week of June, maybe you purchase final supplies/organize final donations the last week of May, open registration 8 weeks before in April, start promoting your VBS in March, communicate with your team in February, and finalize VBS curriculum by the end of January. Working backward from your event date allows you to spread out the tasks and make sure that nothing gets put off until the last minute or forgotten.
3) Evaluate. When you’re done, look at your calendar year visually. Is there one month that has lots of events? Did you plan 3 events for your preschool families in April, but then they have nothing until October? Make sure your calendar is balanced throughout the year in both number and intended audience. Each event on the calendar must help meet a specific goal and have a specific purpose. Can you identify how each event on your calendar helps you meet your specific goals for the year and your vision for the ministry?