Ministry Tip: Event Planning
The bottom line of events is ... what is the purpose? Special events can provide fun, fellowship, and renewal for weary Christians and non-Christians alike. With informal settings and non-threatening environments, special events can attract even the most reluctant unchurched people - building bridges for them to experience unexpected, but pleasant, encounters with God and His people. Through special events, we teach that God's church is not merely a building, but a body of believers who enjoy serving God together and reaching out to others.
Some of the information below is from a book called The Planning Remedy. It is no longer in print but provided a wealth of information on planning events.
Special events can help us:
- build relationships
- encourage one another
- exercise spiritual gifts
- welcome strangers
- learn and grow
- study God's word informally
- worship and pray informally
- share the Gospel
- relax and have fun
Most events should be offered free to those who wish to attend, however, don't be afraid to charge for others, such as special banquets, high profile events, and retreats. Special scholarships or sponsorship programs can be set up to help people with limited funds.
Keys to Planning An Event
Most events grow from one or two people who have experienced something they would like to share or a need that they see.
A good plan always begins in prayer. I have personally seen events rise and fall on the basis of prayer. I am not saying that if you do not pray about it your event will fail, I do believe that God's fullest blessing will be poured out on an event where He has been involved in every step of the planning.
What do you want to accomplish with this event and how does it relate to the overall purpose of your ministry. I like to write out a sentence or two that describes the purpose of the event and even the anticipated outcome.
This may or may not be a step in your planning. If you are just beginning a WM, you may need to run a proposal for each event by a Pastor or staff member. Or you may be a lay person who would like to organize an event that needs to be run by the WM Leadership Team.
A proposal should include:
- What the event is and why it is being held
- When and where it will be held
- What does the church need to furnish
- What will the person/team planning the event furnish
- How will the event be financed
- How will the event be publicized
- How many people are expected to attend
Not all of the areas below will be applicable to every event, neither will each of the items listed in each area, but they are all included for you to pick and choose what you will need in planning your event.
Areas that need to be considered when planning an event are:
- Childcare: It is important to determine if you will provide childcare for an event and let the participants know when the event is publicized.
- Speaker Selection: Choosing a speaker will be an important part of the event. There are many wonderful speakers available and sometimes they can be found in your own church! Always listen to a speaker before you ask them to speak at your event. Even when someone is an excellent speaker, they may not click with your particular event. If you decide to find a speaker from outside your church, there is some information in the retreat planning page on finding a good speaker and the paperwork trail.
- Cleanup: Make sure that whatever facilities you use are properly picked up after you use the room. If you are using a room at your church find out if you will need to take down all the tables and chairs and vacuum. My rule of thumb is "leave it the way you found it...or cleaner." It is a great idea to gather some volunteers to help with cleanup before the event. Many hands make light work and it is a lot of fun to hear what the others thought about the event.
- Follow-up: May or may not be necessary.
- Feedback: There will be times you will want to collect feedback from the attendees of an event to help in future planning.
You will need an Event Coordinator who is responsible for the overall planning of the event and leading the Planning Team; a Planning Team that includes the Area Coordinators of various committees; and committees (work teams) who will be responsible for various areas such as publicity, decorating, speaker, etc. An event planning team may meet twice or twelve times, depending on the size and scope of your event. A retreat will require more meetings and planning than a one-time Ladies Night Out event. Always meet with your planning team the day of the event to pray for God's blessing on the event and the lives of those who attend.
Posters can be displayed for a month or two before the event and flyers should be made available within 3-4 weeks of most events. The exception to this would be retreats which should be advertised for several months and have a 6-8 week registration window. Be sure to have plenty of flyers so that those attending can also use them as invitations for their friends.
Good planning will ensure that everything moves smoothly during your program. Write out a time schedule that indicates what is happening when and who is involved. Be sure that each person participating in the program receives a copy and is aware of whether they will be introduced or follow the person in front of them.
Most events will only require follow-up with those who have made a decision or have asked for counseling. Follow-up will also be good if you are doing a kick-off event for a specific ministry or study to personally invite each one who indicated an interest in the ministry or study. Follow-up can be helpful in collecting feedback about an event, like a retreat, to determine what changes may be necessary.
This is the exciting part! Seeing lives changed, watching women connect with each other, and seeing ministries grow! Sometimes it takes time - but there will be fruit!
As you plan your special events, don't be discouraged when problems arise - they're inevitable! Trust God to help you through, and He will honor the time and effort that you spend in building further His kingdom.
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