’08 Teaching Calendar Planning – Part 2
Our planning agenda was both formal and informal. The "informal" part was simple – show up Sunday night and decompress. Do nothing. Eat a great meal and get ready for a busy day on Monday.
Monday looked like this:
We woke up Monday morning, took a quick trip to Starbucks, then spent about 45 minutes praying and just getting quiet. This was an awesome time filled with tears, laughter and prayers of faith and humility. Looking back, I realize that this was such an integral part of our planning process.
COMMITTED TO STAYING FOCUSED
We were very clear that no matter how tempting it was going to be to dive into some immediate planning decisions that were hanging over our heads, we would NOT get sidetracked by them and would remain 100% committed to staying focused on getting 2008 planned out. (Not to say that there wasn’t some serious ADD moments, but I’m just not going to say who…LOL.)
The first thing we did was go through the calendar and identify all "unusual" weekends – meaning holidays, low attendance weekends (based on past couple of years), and any other specific weekends (i.e. BBQ & Baptism, etc…).
Knowing these weekends early on in the planning process allowed us to strategically plan or intentionally NOT PLAN the launch of a new series, etc…
For example, Easter is a great weekend to launch a new series for us. Tons of guests, lots of momentum and always a great time to introduce something new. On the other hand, Memorial Day weekend and a few others (Thanksgiving, Labor Day, etc…) are typically lower attended weekends, so we intentionally steer away from using those as launch weekends for new series.
IDENTIFIED THE "BIGGIES"
There are usually a handful of series that we pour a LOT of marketing and promotion into and those usually take place around spring (Easter), fall and winter. So we immediately blocked off those time frames and allowed for between four to five weeks for each of those series. These are determined based on a few factors – a major one being attendance trends throughout the year.
The bottom line is we don’t try to create tons of momentum during times throughout the year where momentum is naturally slower (i.e. summer (sort of), first few weeks of the new year, etc…). For one, these breaks are much needed for our team. And secondly, we would rather identify our natural seasons of growth and ride those waves by pouring tons of resources, energy and time into those seasons.
A quick word about summer… The past two years have been great summers for us. We have not experienced summer "slumps" and have even grown quite a bit each year during the months of June-July-August. And to tell you the truth, I have NO IDEA why! My theory is that we are reaching so many unchurched people that they just have not yet learned that they are supposed to miss church in the summer! So hopefully they aren’t reading this post…
Part of the summer momentum we’ve experienced might also have to do with how we’ve themed our summer series the past few years. Usually, we will do a six week series themed around either music or movies. The last two years, we did a series entitled, "Rockin’ The Orchard" where we took 6 decades of rock-n-roll (50′s – 00′s) and themed each week on a popular song from each era. The year before we did a series entitled, "Blockbuster Summer" and did movie themes during the summer months. Both of those have seemed to generate a lot of buzz and momentum in the middle of the summer months.
Another advantage of doing series like this in the summer is that since the general "movie" or "music" theme ties the talks together, we can pretty much treat those five or six weeks as "stand alone" messages and hit a variety of topics during these weeks. This has been a good time for us to bring in a few "guest speakers" (which is very rare for us…) and other members of our teaching team since this is also usually when I try to take several weeks off for my annual summer study break.
So……back to our planning. After identifying the holidays, low attendance, special and big weekends, we were then positioned to begin identifying what time frames we had available throughout the rest of the year. For example, we were able to look at the year and identify five "3 week" series slots, four "5 week series" slots, six "stand alone" slots, etc…
After identifying all of the slots and what type of time frame we had to work with…..the REAL FUN began! Brainstorming topics and themes!
And I’ll hit that in my next post.