It’s a new year, and that means it’s time for a new calendar. But I’m not talking about buying a new one from the store with pictures of puppies or your favorite sports team. You’ve got a lot of great ministry ideas to put into action for this new year, but have you organized it all out yet? Maybe you’ve been in the habit of planning out your ministry more on a monthly basis because of how busy you tend to be, or maybe you cannot fathom the idea of planning out a year of ministry because you can barely plan out your day. No matter what may keep you from arranging a yearly ministry calendar, you are not alone! Believe me, you will find planning your year of ministry to be very beneficial.
It is so easy to cruise through habituated events and repeated rhythms of church functions to the point where we can lose sight of why we do those things at all. Organizing your calendar ahead of time allows you to step back and see the full scope of your ministry and its purpose. It sounds simple, but as a local ministry leader, how often do you ask, “Why do we do this?” If a teenager were to ask you that question about one of your events, activities, or services, could you answer that question well? By creating a game plan for your ministry, you’ll be able to articulate goals you might not realize you had, identify how your ministry is achieving those goals throughout the year, and perhaps find an additional type of leadership that your parish could really use.
Organizing your calendar ahead of time allows you to step back and see the full scope of your ministry and its purpose.Allen Dunlap
So how should you organize your ministry calendar? Now, plenty of tips and resources are available on how to be a good planner, but the following are a few tips that are especially relevant to us as leaders in ministry:
1. Don’t Do It Alone
Obviously, if you’re a youth pastor like me, you shouldn’t plan activities without getting together with the rest of your ministry team first. It is quite possible that your church or team could come up with additional plans besides your own. But organizing your calendar with others isn’t just about getting permission or making sure nothing interferes with other events. Imagine the other possibilities:
- Getting important feedback on your plans
- Identifying intergenerational potential
- Working with other leaders on your district or in your town/area
- Gaining new ideas
- Not having to reinvent the wheel (Example: Joining another church’s youth retreat without creating your own)
2. Categorize and Define Your Plans
As you plan with others involved, you’ll begin to discover more of your own ministry style, gifts, and blind spots. That’s why categorizing your events and plans can be especially helpful for you once you’ve got a good feel for what you’re going to put on the calendar. Perhaps you’ve got a lot of game nights planned for your youth group in the summer, along with a lesson emphasizing social justice, but you notice that you have nothing planned yet to serve the community during that time. In many ways, your ministry calendar tells a story of your church’s personality. Be sure it’s a good one!
In many ways, your ministry calendar tells a story of your church’s personality. Be sure it’s a good one!Allen Dunlap
So, once you have a reasonably good rough draft of your year of plans, begin to put your events into different categories to see what aspects of ministry may be lacking or are in abundance. Examples of these categories—like evangelism, discipleship, holiness, hospitality, fun, almsgiving, worship, etc.—are up to you to choose and based on your assessment of how you should shepherd your people into being Christ’s followers.
3. Dream Big Dreams with God
Chances are that you will be repeating a lot of your same events and rhythms of ministry from years past, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. At the same time, don’t get so comfortable that you forget what it’s like to dream with God for the world to be how God is already redeeming it to be: wholly holy. The people you minister to need a leader like you who will dare to pray and dream big dreams with God to bring God’s kingdom to earth. Plan out another year that tells of Christ’s return, which may happen sooner.