Hosting events can be a great way to minister to and serve people through your church. However, events can take a significant toll on your budget, staff, and volunteers.

Fortunately, it is possible to reap the benefits of hosting events without the extra stress or expense. How do you do it? Plan in advance. In fact, I recommend a year out.

No, I’m not saying you need to create a detailed to-do list a year ahead, but at least decide which events your church will host for the year.

By doing this well in advance, your team will have time to get all their ideas on the table, discuss what events are best at each time of year, and determine whether you need to space the events out. Doing this exercise when there’s no time crunch will help everyone to stay focused on the big picture.

Here’s how to get started planning church events a year ahead:

Step No. 1: Get All Ideas on the Calendar

This is the fun part: Get a huge wall calendar (erasable is best) and write out every event you intend to host in the upcoming year. Have each ministry department leader put their events on the calendar and make sure you include all other churchwide events.

Step No. 2: Set Up a Calendar Review Meeting

Once you’ve written them all down in one calendar, organize an event review meeting. It’s important to have all ministry department leaders, the Executive Pastor, Senior Pastor, and ministry support department leaders (finance, communications, facilities, etc.) participate in this calendar review.

Step No. 3: Discuss the Proposed Calendar

At the calendar review meeting, get to the specifics of each event you’re intending to host. Here are some questions to help you move along the discussion:

Have we hosted this event before? If so, was it successful? If not, why do we want to do it again?

Do we have too many events within a four- to six-week timeframe? If so, which ones can we move — if they aren’t specific to a season or holiday — or eliminate?

What else is going on in our church or community that might conflict with any of these events? For example:

  • Does your community host a large charity race, fair, parade, or another big event that would conflict with a potential church event?
  • Do you have any remodeling or building projects coming up that could impact your ability to host an event during a certain timeframe?
  • For summertime events: How engaged is your congregation in church events during the summer months? Do most people take a vacation or do they stay around town? Consider this before planning too many summer activities.

Step No. 4: Evaluate the Workload

Dive deeper into your review discussion by evaluating the possible workload issues that could arise with too many events. Consider the following:

If you have several events within a four- to six-week timeframe, do you have enough volunteers to cover them without them having to work more than one event?

Does your staff have the capacity to handle the preparation for several events at once? For example, can your communications department create graphics, webpages, video announcements, and other promotional materials for multiple events at the same time?

Remember: Even if many of the events are department-specific, the supporting departments will work on more than one event at a time.

Step No. 5: Consider the Budget

The last thing to consider in your review is the budget. Do you have a budget set (or at least a draft) for each event proposed? If not, prepare those numbers before finalizing the calendar.

You might find that you don’t have the cash flow to support several events at once. This could lead to you eliminating, scaling back, or spreading out events.

Planning church events can be a bonding and exciting experience for you and your planning team, but only if you have enough time to enjoy it. With a little bit of intentional planning ahead of time, you’re setting your team up for success down the road.