It’s May and Spring has sprung! Flowers are pushing up through the earth, the snow has melted, and school is out soon. So, we’re all thinking about planning for the fall, right? Of course not! Many of us in ministry are doing good to keep up with the now; we’ve barely crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s for summer ministry.

So why is it a smart idea to start planning for fall ministries now? Because the summer will be crazy, time will pass quickly, Fall will be here, and how the Fall Kick-off goes – so goes our next school year of ministry. When by the Fall Kick-off, a thorough smattering of what everyone in your church needs to know for full participation in the next school year’s ministries is available, it makes for a smoother, happier experience for everyone.

If planning the details for a fabulous and informative fall are delayed till the start of the school year, the ministry year can often feel like it’s perpetually running behind trying to catch up. Share on X

I know, I know. Your team (staff and/or volunteers) are tired and not excited about starting work projects for next year now. They’re ready for a little ministry breather. I get it and volunteers deserve a break, a change of pace.

Here’s an idea I recommend: have an end-of-the-year volunteer “thank you” gathering. Serve a little meal or fun snacks, have a few little tokens of appreciation, and while you’re celebrating the volunteers, pick their brains with debriefing questions. People feel valued when their thoughts are asked for and appreciated. Here’s a list of questions you can ask:

  • What celebration stories can we tell from this past year’s ministry?
  • What worked really well in the ministry?
  • What ministry pieces do we want to keep?
  • What didn’t work as well?
  • How can we fix those “less than optimal” pieces?
  • What new initiatives would be good for next year?

As your people give you input and ideas, observe who has what passion for tweaks and changes in next year’s ministry. Ask them if they would, while still enjoying a breather over the summer, think through a game plan for that piece of the fall ministry puzzle. They don’t have to have any meetings, they don’t have to implement the details; you’re just asking them to think through the steps of what that ministry piece might look like. Be sure and take good notes of everyone’s input and who said they’d think through what. (Email me at for a great game plan template you can email them.)

Before everyone says goodbye and heads home, set a date for gathering back in early August to share the game plans each person thought through over the summer. When you meet again, just think how great it will be that so much planning is already done and you, the leader, didn’t have to do it all.

Here’s a final little secret: those people who pondered over game plans for the new school year? Most of them will now have an ownership in their idea plan and I bet they’ll take on a little more leadership of getting it accomplished.

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