Scott Hodge


’08 Teaching Calendar Planning – Part 1

Nov 26, 2007

Two weeks ago, our creative planning team took an overnight excursion to plan out our teaching calendar for 2008.  We made great progress and after a full day of planning we walked away with 52 weeks planned out – meaning that we decided on themes and topics for the upcoming year. 

This was a HUGE WIN for us because now we will be able to pour the majority of our time into creative planning for these series.  I’m telling you…  Having a general idea of where we’re headed over the next 12 months is amazing.

Anyway…  Since posting about our time away I’ve received several emails from people asking how we went about planning it all out, creating an agenda, selecting topics and what the overall time away looked like for us.  So I thought I’d take the next couple of days to share our experience and what worked well for us. 

It’s probably worth mentioning that while we certainly believe that God can (and does) guide and direct us this far in advance, we also hold to the belief that EVERYTHING is subject to change.  So even though we have a general idea of where we’re going in the weeks and months ahead, we also hold to them lightly and with ears wide open to however God might want to adjust what has been planned.

In preparing for our time away, WHO and WHERE and WHAT were important to us.  So here’s what went into our thinking about these three elements.

Going into our planning time we knew that we had a LOT to get done in a very short amount of time.  Because of that, we decided to keep our team small.  For us, having fewer people involved in the initial planning is best because the more people you have involved at this stage, the more opinions, ideas, and thoughts that have to be worked through. 

It was also important to us that we put together a team for this that has proven chemistry with one another.  Again, because of the time factor, we knew we would have to hit the ground running – which can be hard to do when you have a team that is not used to working together. 

Sometimes you just need to get out of the neighborhood.  Which is easy to do in Chicago!  So for our planning, we got far enough away from what was “familiar” on a day to day basis – yet close enough to home so that we could minimize travel time and costs.  Ideally, a quick trip to Hawaii or the Virgin Islands on our private jet probably would have worked best.  (Har, har, har….)

Terri, my amazing assistant, searched for great deals on and found a really sharp suite at a very nice hotel about 25 or 30 miles away from The Orchard.  We stayed in the suite and then also used it the next day for our planning.  The room had a conference style table and chairs, lot of windows which allowed for natural lighting, and plenty of space to move around. 

The other option would have been to get a couple of rooms and then rent a conference room – which would have doubled our expense.  Thus, the suite…  It worked out great!

Our planning day was set for a Monday, so we got to our hotel Sunday evening, went out for a nice dinner and then just flat out relaxed for the rest of the night.  This was important to us because we knew we had just walked away from a huge weekend and would need every ounce of creativity and energy for our planning the next day. 

Being able to wake up Monday morning and dive right in was huge for us!  We didn’t have to fight traffic or try to juggle personal responsibilities before heading off to plan 12 months worth of topics.  Being there and ready to go with our hearts and minds relaxed and focused paid off big time.

Up next – AGENDA.

7 Responses to “’08 Teaching Calendar Planning – Part 1”

  1. GREAT GREAT idea to post on this… great post Scott.

  2. Corbett says:

    Thanks Scott! So many of us are trying to take the step up to the next level in preparation and planning, but it’s hard when you feel like you’re inventing the wheel. I’m looking forward to reading how you set your agenda.

  3. Jake says:

    I’m glad you’re sharing this info. I too was curious about your overall approach to what sounds like a huge undertaking.

  4. Chad Payne says:

    This is great stuff, Scott. I have done personal retreats to plan a year’s worth of topics for messages, but I have never included a creative team to help with it. Thanks for sharing your process with us. This will help us bump our ministries and creativity up a notch.

  5. Scott says:

    Thanks for outlining the process that you and your team went through developing a 2008 teaching plan. I’m looking forward to the next couple of posts.

  6. Jeff says:

    These are helpful posts and I appreciate your willingness to go through the motions. This is the type of information that most don’t pass along… not because they wouldn’t but because who would ask :)

  7. [...] Teaching Calendar Planning Part 1 Teaching Calendar Planning Part 2 Teaching Calendar Planning Part 3 [...]

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