Does your Pastor use a Creative Team to help craft the weekend experience at your church? Does your team plan out sermon series, music, videos and events well in advance?
Chances are, your Pastor is overloaded with studying for the weekend, managing the staff, meeting with members and handling the day-to-day of today's church. I doubt that your Pastor has had the time to even consider how to implement a strategy that would help relieve some of the stress by inviting a group to help plan the weekend experience.
Of course, how far in advance you plan depends on what you're trying to do, the manpower you have to do it, the facility issues (owned vs. temporary) and the budget. All of that comes under "Implementation".
The actual "Planning" of concepts and ideas, in my opinion, needs to be 3 months out. This gives those who use a lot of interactivity (video, audio, lighting, drama, props, graphics) in the service the time to keep new ideas fresh, apply concepts to practical solutions and implement without the pressure cooker of week-to- week deadlines.
When you get right down to it, the ability to manage the process is key. I've used a lot of ways to accomplish this, but none has worked as well for me as a simple Gantt chart. These are used in construction all the time. They show the various trades and time-lines for a project so that the Architect can stay on top of the overall process to make sure it comes in on-time and on-budget.
I prefer the software Microsoft Project 2003, as it's easy to set up your teams, their areas of responsibility and the time-lines/deadlines to ensure all of the coordination comes together.
For smaller churches, a simple Excel spreadsheet can handle this, as the needs are typically less involved. But for churches really pushing the envelope creatively, project management is a highly valuable skill/asset.
Finally, you can only schedule to a point: the Holy Spirit can move and change at a moment's notice. But in reading the Bible, He consistently chooses order over chaos. In my experience, I've seen that He's capable of moving 3 months in advance just as well as 3 minutes in advance.
In my opinion, It's much easier to ditch a plan if God moves than it is to create one if He doesn't.
The most striking example of this was September 11th, 2001. The need to make changes for the upcoming weekend was obvious, and everyone did the last minute heroics to pull it off. But again, the plan and team structure was already in place to allow for that change and helped avoid people burn out and emotional train wrecks. Share this idea with your Pastor and begin 2004 by planning out your weekend experiences to be more engaging, interactive and exciting!
Anthony Coppedge provides consulting to Churches for developing a media ministry and choosing the right equipment, Manufacturers for developing new products and marketing strategies to reach the church market and Dealers for sales training and systems integration development for working with churches. He lives in Bedford, Texas with his wife and two
daughters and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org