5 Steps to Focused and Fun Church Planning in 2017

While many New Year’s resolutions and goals are being set this time of year, it’s a great time for church leaders to fine-tune your plans for 2017.

You may have a brief window in early January to catch your breath and reflect on recent Christmas programs while beginning to plan for Easter productions. Here are a few ideas for putting an effective plan in place.

First, Put All Annual Events on a Calendar

Start your annual planning by scheduling yearly events on the calendar or on a shared digital planner. Yes…Christmas will be December 25 once again, but Easter dates change each year (April 16 this year). Then backdate three months from each big event and mark “start planning for X event” in red. (For example, write “start planning for Christmas Eve” on September 24.) Be sure all the teams involved in these events have it on their calendars as well and schedule a team creative meeting.

It’s as simple as starting with what you know for sure.

Consider Implementing a Church Planning Software App

Many large churches have sophisticated planning apps, but even smaller churches can greatly improve their planning and internal communications with some cost effective software. Best in class is arguably Planning Center Online, which provides a full suite of apps. Whether you start with one, two or all of their apps, their products can be mixed and matched to meet your unique needs. If you need additional apps later, add them at any time and still get a 30-day trial.

Their products include:

  • Groups
  • Services
  • Projector
  • Music Stand
  • Giving
  • Check-in

They are all connected with the hub centered on people. Their apps are web-based and very user-friendly, and you can start with the modules that are most important to you at this time.

Other planning software to consider include:

Try the 3-2-1 System for Focus

Here’s a great idea from Karl Vater in an article from Christianity Today.

“I call it my 3-2-1 System,” explains Vater. “Every week, I take three uninterrupted hours to do nothing but think, plan, pray and write, in the following order:”

  1. On one day I take an hour to think and pray about events and ideas that are THREE months away…these are often starter ideas, “what ifs” and crazy dreams.
  1. On another day I take an hour to think, pray and plan events that are TWO months out. These are ideas that have gone beyond the “what if” stage and have been green-lighted. By now, we’ve started setting dates and times, promotional ideas, recruiting volunteers, decorations, artwork and so on.
  1. On the final day, I take one hour to think, pray, plan and work on events ONE month out. This is when we work on details. We start promoting the event. I begin thinking about what skits, video clips, special songs or sermon illustrations I might use, and so on.

Establish a Plan for Copyright Licensing Coverage

Now is the perfect time to create YOUR PLAN for copyright compliance. I use a simple acronym as a guideline for planning, PLAN, to understand four of the key elements for copyright compliance.

P = PREPARE policies, procedures & planning

L = LEARN the basics of U.S. Copyright Law

A = ALLOW enough time for obtaining permissions

N = NEVER assume it’s OK to use copyrighted material without licensing

Church and ministry leaders excel at planning activities, programs, and events, but copyright clearances are often not included in their plans. Honoring copyrights and avoiding the risks of infringement takes intention, planning, and preparation. Becoming copyright compliant is a process, and it usually takes some time to turn the ship and get everyone on board.

Following the guidelines of our time-tested PLAN four-part strategy, you will be able to develop practices that help your organization become copyright compliant. You can find much more detail on how to PLAN by downloading CCS’s Church Copyright Toolkit. This FREE tool focuses on six key steps to making sure all your copyright activities are legal.

One of the important foundational elements for copyright compliance is implementing employee contracts and handbooks that address specific areas of copyright compliance, and the responsibility and requirement of all employees. Be sure that you document your policies, so all staff members and volunteers understand the requirements. Since various departments or ministries may use copyrighted materials throughout the year in different ways, team leaders should be held responsible for adhering to the church’s policies. Take a step back and get the full picture of what copyrights you may be using each year and make sure that you are using them legally.

Schedule a Planning Day for Staff and Volunteers

January is a great month to gather your team for a day set apart from regular tasks and duties. I like to call these times an “advance,” rather than a retreat because giving time for dreaming, collaborating and planning is an important step towards growth.

Here are some ideas for creating the environment and objectives for successful planning.

  • Set the stage by sharing your expectations and giving value to having everyone contribute. You may want to highlight what you view as the most important items with the highest priority.
  • Provide a clear agenda for the goals and objectives. Highlight specific annual events that will require more detailed planning.
  • Ask someone else to facilitate the meeting, so you can sit in the back and do more listening than talking (80% listen, 20% talking). You’ll learn a lot more that way. Make sure the person is a practiced facilitator and knows how to include everyone and stay on track.
  • Make sure there’s time for fun and strengthening of team member relationships.
  • Allow down time for meals and time for brainstorming and collaboration.
  • Designate a “scribe” who will record all the ideas, goals and action items.
  • Plan on designating follow-up meetings with smaller groups for specific event planning; e.g., to work out the details for a youth movie night.

CCS’s Founder and CVO, Susan Fontaine Godwin is an educator and long-time member of the Christian arts community with 30 years of experience in the Christian media industry, church copyright administration, and copyright management. Susan is an author and speaker and frequently writes for several Christian magazines and online publications. She serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Mobile.

About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration, and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.