January comes around every year, and every year it’s considered a time to reset personal priorities and take time to figure out what we’re going to do in the new year. The same holds true for your church. Coming out of the busy time of the Christmas season, it’s important to take time to get organized for the upcoming year. One of my personal axioms is “Organize or agonize,” and it’s true both personally and in our ministries. Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” GT takes that to heart when it comes to planning our services.
At GT, we have a long-range planning meeting in January and August, that we call “Big Rock.” We invite a wide range of teams to attend this meeting from family ministry to creative arts to the teaching team. Even when GT was a much smaller church, we would do this. If you don’t have staff teams, you could include high-level volunteers and ministry leadership you do have. We look at the upcoming year, brainstorm and plan for the next 6-9 months. This includes looking at what’s happening on the church calendar as well as in the community. We want to make sure that baptism and communion Sundays have a strong tie to the message on those days. We look at when we’re having our First Responders service or our Veterans Day service. We break into small groups and brainstorm sermon series topics without getting bogged down in the details of titles and schedules.
The details get worked out in a meeting that we call “Bottom Line,” which meets most Monday mornings throughout the year. This is still considered a long-range planning meeting since we try to stay a couple of months ahead of the current sermon series. This is where we figure out exact texts, titles, and the one important thing we want people to take away from the message or the “Bottom Line.” This is a smaller group of people who are responsible for communicating the messages. Once a month a larger team gets together for a Service Planning meeting to review service orders, upcoming events, special happenings, and other important info for the upcoming month.
After reading about all of these meetings, you may think that our services seem so planned out that there’s no room for the Holy Spirit, but that’s not the case. We come into these meetings seeking the Spirit’s guidance and often have a time of prayer or worship prior to starting the meetings. And although we certainly do plan out how we expect our services to go, we are always open to the moving of the Spirit and have made changes on the fly when we’ve felt that prompting.
One of our values at GT is “We give God our best because He gave us His.” Part of giving our best involves planning so that we can make every component of a guest’s experience as excellent as possible, providing a reflection of how great God is. Planning and preparation allows us to be flexible when needed and communicate as effectively as possible.
2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT) says, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval.
Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”
How will you start off 2019? Will you organize or agonize this year?