In Jeremiah 29:11-13 we find these encouraging words. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
If man’s chief aim is “to glorify God” then we are obliged to plan church events to the highest standards - albeit that we are human and prone to failure if we try to do things in our own strength without relying on Him. The starting place is therefore prayer and reflection. In fact, prayer should be a major part of our planning process throughout.
CCLW run lots of events and we are constantly thinking about how to do them better. Here are some of the things we are learning and trying to put into practice that might also be helpful to you in running events in your congregation.
What follows may seem like a job in itself, but once you do it a few times it will become second nature.
Here are 10 points that should help:
1. First – Who is taking charge of what?
There are two main roles. Content Person and Event Organiser. Make sure you identify these at the start of the planning process.
2. Who are we trying to connect with and what are we trying to do?
What are you trying to achieve with the event? Have a clear objective, including who your target audience is.
3. What needs done when in the run up?
Write a brief for the event including date and time, venue, budget, music, audio-visual, format, speaker(s).
4. What is it going to cost?
From the brief the event organiser should prepare a draft/projected budget.
5. What are all the parts?
Prepare a Project Plan. This is a detailed timeline of tasks associated with preparing for the event. The plan allows progress to be tracked and the event organiser to ensure everything is in place.
6. What needs to happen on the day?
Prepare a detailed task list or ‘show flow’ of what happens on the day of the event.
7. What do speakers and volunteers need to know?
Speakers and volunteers need a more detailed briefing. Make sure they have basic essential information like date, venue and an overview of their task(s) well in advance.
8. How are we going to tell people what is happening?
Think about the target audience and which channel or channels of communication will reach them best e.g. website / social media / email / text / printed material / local newspaper or magazine advert.
9. How will we deal with unforeseen events on the day?
The best plans can never cover every contingency. Walk around before the event and make sure everything is in place. As the event progresses ensure things runs to time and make adjustments.
10. How will we capture what people thought?
Evaluate the event as soon as possible while memories are still fresh. Consider a questionnaire.
I hope this is helpful. In the coming months, the Council for Congregational Life and Witness hope to produce more detailed guidance with lots of examples and templates. Watch this space for further information.
Richard Russell is recently appointed Programme Development Officer for the Council for Congregational Life and Witness.