Now that the holidays are over, and I’m looking to the year ahead, I created a calendar planning checklist to help me plan out the year without leaving anything out. Planning your calendar year ahead of time helps you see the big picture of what you’re doing in your ministry and stay on top of things (looking at you, procrastinators). When you know what’s coming 2, 3, or even 6 months down the road, you are better able to delegate, plan, focus on your goals, and use your time wisely. So grab your favorite calendar (print or digital), print off the checklist, and plan away!
What you need:
Calendar Planning Tips:
- Get (and keep) a calendar. You can’t plan the year ahead if you don’t know what the year looks like. Whether it’s in print (Blue sky calendars are my favorite) or use a digital calendar with Google. I also ordered one of Ryan Frank’s KidMin Nation Calendars, so I’m looking forward to checking that out!
- Start big. 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. You can host a service project any time throughout the year, but if you plan an egg hunt in October, you might get some pushback.
- Know the seasons of busy-ness for the families in your ministry. As much as we’d love it if the families in our church only had our events on their calendar, the reality is they have commitments (a lot of them) outside of our ministries. My families have asked for no extra events past the first weekend of December until after Christmas and from the beginning of May until after school gets out. Those are two months that are jam-packed with school activities and extracurriculars, so keep your families’ other schedules in mind. This will help prevent you spending time and energy on an event that no one shows up to.
- Vary the type and purpose of your events and consider all the categories. Have a healthy variety of events like outreach, family events, service projects, etc. and be sure to include events for every age group.
- What big events are happening around the world this year? This will help you keep relevancy in mind when planning your calendar. For example, during the Olympics, we like to host a field day type event for families.
- Don’t stress about the details yet. You don’t have to have the event actually planned to know what kind of event you want to have. Stay focused on the big picture. Say you want to do a kids service project next November – great! That’s all you need to know right now. Just pencil in service project on your calendar and start planning once the time gets closer.
- Don’t overload! Keep it simple. You don’t have to have an exciting event every single weekend. One outside-of-Sunday event a month was our rule of thumb and it was the perfect amount for the families in my ministry.
- Add in youth group dates too. Remember that you’re not the only ministry in the church (even if you are the most important wink wink). Make notes of the big youth group dates so you don’t schedule a babysitting night the same weekend all of the youth are on a youth retreat.
- 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.