Ah… fall is in the air and for many of us our ministry programs have kicked off. Your church is thrilled with the typical fall energy that brings an increase in attendance and excitement for the year ahead. Choirs are planning for the Christmas cantata. Children’s ministries are arranging fall events like Trunk-N-Treat. And youth ministries programs are in full swing and planning for the fall retreat with high schoolers somewhere offsite.

Yet, in the middle of the excitement that is fall ministry, somewhere in the back of our minds we’re beginning to think about next summer. In some ways it seems so far off, but that’s the exact right amount of time to get our summer calendars and schedules together.

With that in mind here are ten things to consider as you develop next summer’s calendar.

  1. Consider your mission and ministry goals. Summer events, retreats, and programs across age groups in the church can feel like last minute, haphazard, and purposeless planning… when they’re planned last minute, haphazardly, and without purpose. By starting our planning early, it allows time to reflect on our mission and our ministry goals first. Then plan camps, retreats, small groups, mission trips, VBS, or any other summer program in a way the will assure we meet our goals.
  2. Request other ministry calendars. Check with the other ministries in the church and see what they’ve got planned or are considering for next summer. This will assure that we don’t step on each other’s toes, demonstrate your willingness to be a team player, and help avoid conflicts that often arise when we wait until the last minute.
  3. Collect school calendars. It’s likely your church serves families who attend multiple different schools that probably get out of school and begin school at different times. If your hoping that the multigenerational mission trip will be well attended, plan it around the availability of the families you hope to serve. This can be challenging to navigate once you’ve collected the calendars but will help to make the best decision for the best possible outcomes.
  4. Communicate early. As you soon as dates are solidified for your ministry’s summer calendar, publish them. Don’t wait. Let’s help make it easy for others to participate. Parents and volunteers are often requesting their time off at least twelve months in advance. Most summer camps for children and youth publish next summer’s dates at the end of the current event. To help our families prioritize our ministry opportunities, earlier is always better.
  5. Help families plan. See above. Families deeply want to be involved, but they often won’t wait. They want their children and youth to be involved, but they are coordinating with other groups who are competing with their children’s time. Plan early and help families do the same.
  6. Review the church wide calendar. This can be an often-missed source of guidance when planning ahead. Just double check to see if what you’re considering is already blocked out by another group. By starting in the fall, that allows plenty of time to change or consider new dates to avoid the conflict. And if the calendar is open, be sure that your ministry gets added.
  7. Request rooms and church vehicles. Once your on the church wide calendar, be sure to make any room and vehicle requests early in the process.
  8. Coordinate payments. Many of the trips that get planned, whether they are a church-wide mission trip, a youth ministry camp, or an offsite volunteer training, require a registration and payments. By planning early, it allows participants to schedule and plan financially as well as with their calendars.
  9. Build momentum. For an upcoming mission trip, you may want to have multiple meetings to prepare the group for the work or experience they will have. Each meeting builds excitement for the upcoming opportunity. Each meeting prepares their hearts and minds for what’s to come. Each meeting the Holy Spirit nudges us closer to those we will serve. These are momentum building meetings that will help the trip into the memory maker it deserves to be.
  10. Add your fall kickoffs. Remember that the summer schedule is not just about summer but help to launch our falls ministries with success. Be sure to include any fall kickoffs, the start of new ministries, and returning to the regular yearly schedule at the end of the summer calendar.

With a little time and attention, the summer calendar can be scheduled, dates set, plans made, and you’re freed up to focus on the ministry this week, while avoiding the rush and anxiety that is guaranteed to take place if you wait until spring.

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