When we’re “firing on all cylinders,” we begin the planning process the first week in October. The process starts with preparation for “data day,” a meeting or two during which we look at the current year’s measures and other inputs in preparation for a discussion about the coming year. The discussion includes the current year’s Sermon Calendar (also known as The Evangelistic Calendar, since it contains more stuff than just sermon series titles and dates), along with Key Performance Measures, stories about life change over the past year, a quick review of our target demographic information, and in general how we feel the year has gone.
The planning process concludes in mid-December when the Leadership Team approves the budget for the coming year.
Do you typically have teaching series planned for the whole year, down to the topics, titles, etc.?
The short answer to this question is “no.” I would add that I don’t think it’s necessary to have everything spelled out for the whole year. What would your Arts Department be doing with a series that doesn’t start for six months? I guess it depends on the series. Also, how far in advance a church can plan down to the series and weekend titles depends entirely on the “wiring.” It’s difficult to stay “passionate” about a series you came up with nine months ago.
What’s important here is that you understand your demographic in two ways. First, what are their “primary concerns” or “felt needs?” You can plan sermon series “types” that will attract your demographic with this information. For example, if the demographic is concerned about “parenting,” a series on parenting should be planned once or twice per year.
Second, how does the ministry year ebb and flow? There’s a natural cycle to the year. Series types should be planned that coincide with the lives of the people you’re trying to reach. For example, parents are occupied with sports and other activities with their children during the school year. In the summertime, they’re occupied with travel, vacation plans, home projects, etc.
Is the focus of BIG SUNDAYS on getting the congregation involved in inviting their friends and family? And, does the event always include a special speaker?
Absolutely! It’s important to understand The Secret To Church Growth and leverage it. By far and away, we know that the most frequent response to “How did you find out about our church?” is that a friend or family member invited them. So, we send HTML e-mails to our congregation for every new sermon series or special event they can easily forward to friends and family. We also print and distribute invite cards to all BIG SUNDAYS and special events.
And, no, our BIG SUNDAYS don’t always include a special speaker. They always, however, include something special!