Screen shot 2009-12-21 at 11.35.24 PMA few weeks ago I wrote about the calendar planning retreat I took the kids staff on. We took about 12-14 hours to map out all of 2010. We wrapped up that retreat with a pretty clear idea of what the following year would look like (there were a few unknowns, but those would be determined within a few weeks). There’s nothing like having your year all planned out. Next year we plan to do this retreat in August or September so we have a bit more of a head start.

However, I’ve noticed a flaw in the fully planned out ministry calendar. It’s happened to me and I’ve talked to dozens of others in the ministry who’ve been plagued by this problem. What is this problem I’m talking about? It’s called the “the event is one week away and there’s literally no way we can plan for it or promote it, so we either need to push it back or just cancel it” problem. Has this ever happened to you? I know that this year, I paid a little more in shipping to get my baptism announcement cards than I usually do because the big day just snuck up on us.

So last week I had another retreat. It was our promotional calendar retreat. It was much shorter and we just met at my house for 4-5 hours. Here’s what we did:

We created the 2010 event calendar on a google calendar that everyone on my staff has administrative rights to. Then I created a second calendar and called it Kids Quest Marketing (in google calendar, you can overlap two or more calendars) We took one event at a time and worked backwards. What Sunday’s would we want this in the program? When do we want this on the website? What dates should this show up in the Kids Quest blog? Do we want to distribute postcards, mail them or hang up posters? By what date do we need to order print material or submit graphics to the communications team? How far in advance from that do I need a graphic designer to design all these materials. We schedule all these things as appointments on the Kids Quest Marketing calendar. Now we just stick to this calendar. In staff meetings, we look ahead to see what’s coming down the pipe. We share this calendar with our graphic designer so she can know what’s coming and work ahead if necessary.