In my first church, they liked to plan ahead. In November, I was handed a blank calendar and told to list all of my events for the next year. I had a month to get it done, turn it in and get my spots reserved at church.
I always hated that time of the year. I never knew what we were going to do that far in advance. So, I sat my calendar on the corner of my desk, and a day or so before it was due, I hastily scribbled some “open” dates on the calendar. I always ended up moving them later, and that usually caused some friction with another group in the church.
It wasn’t until much later in my ministry that I saw the value of long-term planning and developed a plan to get it done. I don’t plan all the dates myself, but I do head into my calendaring meetings with a plan.
In my last post, I extolled the values of a year-long calendar. Now, I want to get into the nuts and bolts – how does the process work? Let me explain how I do it to give you an idea.
I begin the process by listing all the events we did this year. I also list any successful events I’ve done in the past or are considering for the future. I will hand this list to my youth committee prior to our first calendar meeting. On my own, I will begin to narrow the list down to 10 events, including trips like camp.
Next, at our first calendar meeting, we will decide as a group what 10 events we want to do in the next year. Then, we simply slot our events into quarters. My youth calendar runs from August to July, so each three-month window is a quarter. For example, I know my graduates’ dinner is going to fall at the end of the school year, so I slot it into our fourth (or summer) quarter. No dates are attached to events at our first meeting. It’s all about balance at this point. We don’t want the calendar to be too heavy in any one quarter.
At our next meeting, we get specific. All events are assigned dates. This is also the final opportunity to add or subtract events. At the conclusion of this meeting, we have a workable, but not final, calendar. We spend time processing and evaluating dates before finalization.
On a personal note, my wife gets to appraise the calendar now. She has the right to veto any date on the calendar at this point. My pastor also gets the calendar for the same reason.
Finally, at our last meeting, we approve and/or move any dates. When we reach a consensus, the calendar is done and ready for distribution.
It seems straightforward, and it is as long as you have all of the necessary information. But that’s a topic for a different post.