The Bible says, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Too many churches approach ministry with a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality. Instead of carefully making plans for outreach and church life they coast along hoping something good will happen by accident, dumb luck, or God simply taking pity on their depressing lack of effort. I have found that it isn’t only local churches that struggle with this, but schools and occasionally conference departments too. A lack of planning creates an undercurrent of stress that saps energy and fun out of serving Jesus. While planning is hard work, it prevents even harder work in the long run.
Several years ago, our church rented to a Methodist congregation and I was blessed to form a friendship with their pastors. One of their practices was to gather ministry leaders together once a year for a “war room” session. In this meeting they plotted out the entire year—from social events to sermon series. I have since adapted this concept to my ministry and have found it to be a huge help for both our church and school. While it takes creative energy and time the process isn’t hard to implement.
The first task is to pick an annual date for war room (or whatever name you like better) and make it permanent. Ours is the first Sunday of November. In the lead up to the meeting, pastoral/elder staff should be roughly sketching what sermon ideas/series/concepts they intend to preach. Other leaders should be notified of the upcoming meeting and asked to plan what special event their ministries intend to participate in and on what date. The congregation should be notified with a bulletin insert asking members if they know of any special events they plan on being involved with or that they think the church should host. The various events and outreaches should have dates attached to them and be sent to the secretary or pastoral staff.
Prior to the final planning session, a rough draft calendar should be created and emailed to all board members/ministry leaders. The pastor should be mindful of school, conference, and academy calendars as well to avoid conflicts. This calendar should have the sermon title, speaker, and text for each Sabbath, as well as times for church outreach/social events. Encourage people to make corrections and notes on the calendar and bring them to the meeting.
During the actual meeting food may be served while leaders go through each month, with the pastor chairing, finalizing events. Once everything is written out the information can be handed to a secretary to draft or, and this is recommended, given to someone in the church with graphic arts skills. The goal is to produce, on card stock, a document that has one side with the church logo/motto and all the Sabbaths with their corresponding sermons/speakers. On the other side a calendar of events should be displayed with pastoral/elder contact information underneath. Once completed, it should be made available to people in the lobby—ideally by January. This helps reduce communication, create an overarching flow with church events and sermons, and reduces a lot of stress as everyone knows what’s going on.
Seth Pierce is the lead pastor for the Puyallup church in Washington