Everyone groans when we see the first back-to-school commercial of the year. Almost as much as seeing the first Christmas ad that asks "Started your holiday shopping yet?"

We're never fully ready to be reminded of huge events on our calendar — even if they're close.

The church is the same. It shouldn't come as a shock to your leadership (or you) that Easter, Christmas, Lent, etc., are approaching. Except we get so focused on the busyness of today, we stop glancing forward, and special days creep up.

Please note: Christmas is sneaking up.

It's not too soon to be planning diligently for the holiday season. In fact, some churches have everything planned out already!

Here are five things you should be doing now to communicate effectively leading up to December:

1. Complete your communications calendar. Yes, your ministry needs an accessible calendar on which all church events are posted. This week is a good time to double-check with every leader so the calendar has everything on it. Then, check to see if there are conflicts or days that overtax your families. Now's the time to solve the issues.

2. Determine your emphasis. Knowing your church's overall tagline (what you’re known for), meet and decide what theme your Christmas season will take on. What's the key benefit for your community to attend? What emotion do you want them to have? What do they need?

3. Have a communication plan. Plan out your season. How will messaging roll out and how will you use social media, website, printed materials, advertising, giveaways, etc.? Write out your communication budget on paper, and get it approved before you spend a dime. Inspire the staff and leaders with your thoughts, and get feedback so you can alter your plans.

4. Work on graphics and language. With an approved emphasis and plan, start working on the design, fonts, colors and words. Plan them all out so you have similarity between ministries with consistency so everything works together to build up the church brand.

5. Consider upgrading your website. Every year that passes, more people rely on websites for communications. Since your communication hub revolves around your website, now is the time to consider what can be improved. Be ruthless! You may even decide to redesign your entire website (that won't be done by Christmas, but it's time to work on it if you want it done by Easter).

Yes, I said Easter. Pssssst ... it's coming soon after Christmas. It's not too soon to think about it either.