As I looked at his calendar, I was shocked by what I saw. Almost every weekend had some event for youth. There was kickball one weekend and lock-in the next. Some of his weekends had multiple events. I remember asking my predecessor, “And how are you still married?”
Tom, who had mentored me and helped me get into ministry, was making a point. He told me that he didn’t want me to fill the church calendar, definitely not my own, with random events that lacked purpose. I walked away from that conversation, learning that your calendar and schedule need to meet the mission of your ministry.
It’s easy to get distracted by opportunities that have nothing to do with fulfilling the Church’s mission. It’s also essential to remember that social events and programs do have their place in the life of a parish. The problem is when what you do has no impact, or worst distracts you from what your ministry is called to do. When you look at your calendar for the next several months, ask yourself the following questions:
DO OUR PLANS MATCH OUR PRIORITY?
What is the most important task or initiative your ministry is trying to accomplish? What is the biggest change you are trying to make? Your calendar can either propel you towards accomplishing your goal or serve as a minefield of distractions.
Over the next six months, what do you want to accomplish? What are you hoping will change about your ministry or your church? Before you add anything, make sure there are not things on the calendar that will sabotage your goals.
IS THIS PACE SUSTAINABLE?
Sometimes our calendars are filled with worthy and purposeful programming; however, we do not have the personnel or resources to make them happen. When you find your calendar overwhelming, there are a few options you can eliminate, delegate or delay.
- Eliminating certain programs or events can be emotional, but the margin you’ll create for yourself can be life-giving. While no one wants to disappoint, your ministry can’t be all things to all people.
- Delegating an initiative to another person is not only a great way to open up your calendar but lift potential leaders. Allowing someone else to take the reigns can create the capacity you need to do more eventually.
- Delaying a program or an event by a couple of months or a year can buy you the time to acquire the right resources and help. While it can serve as an inconvenience, it’s a little less emotional than eliminating it.
A calendar that is not filled to the brim allows you as a leader to look at the big picture, focus on what matters most, and equip your team for success.
WHAT DOES THIS CALENDAR SAY ABOUT OUR MINISTRY’S CULTURE?
If you were to show an outsider your calendar, what would they say? Would they tell you it looks fun, busy, or random? A calendar should be an expression of who you are as a ministry. While you can offer a much as you want, if the programs, events, or opportunities do not flow, they will not attract people to your parish. Even worst, a dysfunctional calendar might confuse people and push them away.
Whether it’s planning for the fall or look ahead to the next fiscal year, make sure your calendaring isn’t an exercise of filling in the blanks. If you develop a strategy where you focus on what is most important with a pace that does not wear you out, you’ll not only find productivity but the joy your ministry should bring.
What are some of the best practices you utilize for calendaring?
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