A couple of weeks ago I got the distinct pleasure of leading some breakouts at the Orange Conference. It was a ton of fun and I know that it was helpful to many. One of the breakouts I led was “How To: Plan a Ministry Calendar.” It was a 45 minute session on ministry planning goodness.

I’m not really going to share everything here (since I know that you can purchase the audio of the breakout from Orange), but I will share a few parts. Here is a short section about tips and tricks to planning you ministry calendar:

Calendar Tips
Let me share with you a few tips to keep in mind while you’re in the calendaring process.

Print out your calendar
Sure, you can do the whole thing in Google Calendar, iCal or Outlook… but you’re likely going to miss stuff. When you have it all printed out, you’ll see patterns and gaps. You’ll see where you have an extra week because it was a long month or where you’re simply doing too much of one thing. I like to print out an 18 month stack that I give all my staff before we go on the retreat. One page for each month that already has holidays and some of the big stuff. If I get it to them early enough, they can start putting their stuff on it.

Then, I also like printing out the calendar really big and putting it on the wall so we can all sit and stare at it together… we can write right on it. If you don’t have access to wide format printer, it might cost you a little money to have one printed. Worst case scenario, you could simply go to Office Depot or Staples and buy a big desk calendar. It’s not huge, but it’s better than taping 11×17 sheets of paper to the wall.

Color code
Once you start stacking all these events on the calendar, they’re going to get confusing and hard to find. Systematize your events. Make your baptisms, baptism classes, child dedications and child dedication classes in blue. Put events like camp or mission trips in red. Put staff meetings and retreats in orange. Put major church events or local events in black. Come up with an organized way of doing this and stick with it throughout the calendar.

Sticky notes
Over the course of your calendar planning, everything is going to change multiple times. Don’t use markers, they’re too permanent. Don’t use a pencil though, because you wont be able to see it or find it later if everything is in pencil. Get multi-colored sticky notes and put all your events on color coded notes and place those on the calendar. This way you have complete flexibility throughout the process. One you’re a few hours from being done with the retreat, start transferring from stick notes to marker. At the same time I’ll have several staff members begin putting all the events on the actual (digital) calendar. When done, I’ll roll up the calendar have put it in a closet for reference. You’ll not believe the number of times I’ve had to pull it back out to verify a date that was on our calendar. I’ve had one in my trunk for almost 2 years now.

Okay, I’ve got some Calendar Goodness for you now. Are you ready?

The last time I planned out a ministry calendar, I printed a large version of an 18 month calendar out for the team to work on. It was way too big. Nearly 60 feet long. Ha!

Today I’m getting away with my key leaders on my Kid’s Ministry staff and we’re planning the calendar. I redesigned a 20 month calendar (much smaller) to work on. I have four months per section:

  • May-August (2011)
  • September-December (2011)
  • January-April (2012)
  • May-August (2012)
  • September-December 2012)

Since I’ve gone to the work of designing the calendar files, I thought I’d share with you. Each 4 month section is 48 inches tall and 75 inches long. They’re all in a zip file that can be downloaded here.