Hosting events throughout the year is how many churches are able to expand their reach within communities. Church events allow a unique space for fellowship and a chance to share the Word of God outside of Sunday services.

From Vacation Bible School to marriage retreats to Christmas concerts to Easter celebrations, churches have plenty to plan. But while ministries are frequent event hosts, it’s rare to find one with a standard process for planning those events.

Often, it’s a “make it happen no matter what” mindset that can seem chaotic and rushed. In my experience, that combination leads to overspending money and overextending people.

If you think your church is falling into this expensive event planning trap, it’s good to identify how church dollars and resources are being spent. Here are four ways your church events are costing so much.

1. High Volunteer Turnover

High volunteer turnover is a potential sign that your church event planning process needs an overhaul. If you don’t have clear planning procedures in place, last-minute volunteer requests and changes will undoubtedly come up.

Though they may still offer to serve at an event, volunteers can become weary of the late requests and may stop serving altogether. Like anyone else, volunteers don’t appreciate chaos and a lack of clear direction.

When that happens, they can’t do their job well, leaving staff members frustrated and volunteers discouraged. When you lose volunteers, you’re losing your ability to run events effectively and within budget.

2. Church Staff Burnout

A lack of advanced planning, especially for bigger, more complex events, will require church staff to put in extra hours in the weeks leading up to the event. If this happens once or twice a year, it may not have much of an impact.

However, if this is the norm for your church’s events, you’ll end up with staff members who dread the next one — and families who resent the church for taking away their spouse or parent so much. The result of this is staff burnout, which may lead to staff members leaving or at a minimum, having a hard time staying engaged in their roles.

3. Last-Minute Spending Habits

Church budgets tend to be tight and most ministry leaders seek to be excellent stewards of the financial resources entrusted to them. However, when events aren’t planned ahead of time, you’re likely to run into additional costs that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

With last-minute planning comes rush fees for shipping and vendors who charge extra for quicker turnarounds. This could also lead staff members to buy items pre-made that would have been cheaper to make or pay more for items because there’s no time to shop for better deals.

4. Congregational Overwhelm

Does your church do too much? Though the intentions are good, sometimes churches take on a little more than they can handle with the hopes of reaching more people.

In reality, if a church hosts too many events within a short period of time it can overwhelm the congregation. With so many events come myriad announcements and requests for them to participate. Eventually, they’re going to tune you out and only go to the events they've always participated in. Some may even stop joining in on events altogether.

This, of course, is the complete opposite of your goal in spreading the message of Jesus. It’ll also make it extremely difficult to make up the money spent on planning the events. In most circumstances, less is more.

At the end of the day, planning pays. By investing time to plan at last three to six months out, your team will be able to clearly identify the vision for the event, how best to communicate it to your target audience, invite volunteers to get involved early, and pay a lot less for event vendors and merchandise.

If your church needs to reevaluate its planning process but you’re unsure what that would look like, check out my book, “Big Event Success for Churches,” today. You can read the first chapter for free here.