This guest post was written by Preston Plentl.
From Easter events to VBS, Kids Camps to Fall Fests, as a Children’s Ministry Leader you do some or all of these. Large events are inevitable in a Children’s Ministry calendar year. They are a natural part of your workflow. They can either be a joyful blessing or the bane of your existence, and often this is determined by the overall plan for the event.
I don’t think it comes as a shocker to know that you must have a plan. There is so much to be done, and planning will either make or break the execution of an event.
So how does one effectively plan for an AMAZING event? Let’s dive into some key factors I believe will set you apart.
Start with WHY
The first major question you must ask and answer before you take another step forward is: WHY?
WHY are you doing this event? What is the purpose? The WHY is what motivates you and it’s what will need to be communicated to motivate and inspire volunteers and leaders to take action.
If you don’t have a WHY, do nothing else until you do, or it may just be that the event is not necessary to do at all. No matter what you do, be sure to seek God’s discernment as to His will for you and your season as well as the church and its season.
Throughout my years of ministry, there have been events we have stopped that we had done for years and then brought them back later down the road. Discernment was key in those decisions. But the WHY will be the driving force as to the success of that event.
Allow as much time as possible to pray, think, dream, and create. What does your event look like? What is the theme? What do you want to accomplish? What does God want to accomplish? Who do you want to reach? Is this event just for the church body, or is it for the entire community?
THINK through every aspect of the event from the perspective of the first-time guest or volunteer who has NO idea what they are stepping into. Get all of it down on paper, including every task that will need to be completed for the event to run.
During this creative thinking time, you must nail down a theme. It’s from this that everything launches. THEME will drive DESIGN. What graphics get created, what décor gets ordered or produced, how the event is overall packaged, is going to be based on this theme.
Promote the Event
If no one knows about your event, the long days and late nights preparing will be for nothing.
First, establish registration. Your online platform will be vital to communicating about your event to participants. Create registration for both attendees AND volunteers. If you’re ready for it, you can use QR Codes, too! They make it quick and simple for people to check-in at your event.
Once registration is established, you are ready to advertise. I do the following with any event launch:
- Make signage for inside and outside your building. Again, allow time! This will need time to be created by you or your church’s communication department. Make sure it can be printed as well. You might drop some off at local coffee shops or send some home with church members to share with their neighbors.
- Send an email to all potential attendees in the church database.
- Text the same group up to a week later.
- Make a Social Media announcement on whatever platforms your church uses.
- Make an announcement during the worship service.
- Talk with people face to face.
- Repeat messaging on social media, email blasts, texts, and announcements weekly until you’ve reached the participants and volunteers you need.
Choose Team Leads & Recruit Volunteers
Once the promotion is in full swing, determine all the areas that could require a team and choose team leads. I love this phase because you get to communicate the vision and excitement for the event.
You also get to share how together you will make it a success. It is from these conversations that you will recruit your team, whether leads or not.
Continue to ask church members to lead in various capacities. Make sure you create a role for an event/volunteer coordinator. This delegates the task to someone who can check in with every volunteer and remind them of their responsibilities for the event, and frees you up to solve any last-minute problems that arise.
Transfer the Vision
Get your vision down on paper and share it with your leaders. If you are the only one who is aware, then NO ONE is aware. My most vitally important gatherings are the Team Leader Meeting and the All-Volunteer Meeting.
These meetings share all the logistics for the entire event. By this time every aspect of the event must be thought through! This conveys the expectations and spreads out the ownership among your leadership team.
Here’s how I typically set it up:
- Gather all the materials and have them ready for your volunteers to begin setting up without delays or Walmart or Home Depot runs.
- If setup is happening at lunch or dinner time, provide a meal. FOOD IMPROVES THE MOOD!
- Create an exhaustive list of all the things that need to be accomplished, so you can immediately put people on tasks.
Through organized and intentional planning, you can create an event that is not stressful but very successful. What tips would you add to the process?
*In our upcoming INCM webinar Hosting Amazing Events (August 17th at 12pm CST), we’ll share more about Planning and also cover the critical phases of Execution and Follow-Up
Preston Plentl has been a Children’s Pastor for over 15 years. He is currently the Children’s Pastor of The House Fort Worth where he also serves as the Global Children’s Pastor over each of The House campuses including Modesto and San Diego, CA. He regularly promotes his love of all things Star Wars and Chick-fil-A. Aside from that, he loves speaking to and building into other leaders of the kidmin community.