Fall-Festival-photoAutumn is coming before we know it! If your church staff is like most, you are gearing up to start your fall planning.

Here are some things to consider as you put your planning down on paper:

1. Why do you do what you do? For every event or series you put on the calendar, ask yourself “Why?” If you answer, “Because we always have the ladies' tea the second Saturday in November,” it might be time to change your traditions.

2. Make SMART goals. When we plan our calendars, it's easy to just plan the events. But if you take the time to make SMART goals for every event, you will have tighter, more focused events that show results. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Let’s assume for a moment that you want to do a community event around Halloween. A SMART goal might look like this: To provide 150 families with a safe, positive and encouraging environment to celebrate the end of harvest on Halloween; to connect with 10 families outside the church and discover five new things about each family; to pray for these families as a staff through the end of the year, touching base with them during the second week of December to see if there are ways we can serve them during Christmas.

To make your goal specific and measurable, remember the basic "who, what, when, where, why and how":

  • Who is involved?
  • Why are we doing this event? Is this event for community-building, outreach, discipleship, worship? Ideally, events will serve several purposes. The example above provides for community-building, outreach and (if you train teams for the event and follow-up prayer) discipleship.
  • What is the event? What is the internal goal of the event? (The external goal for the example above was to provide a safe and encouraging environment. The internal goal was to build relationships with 10 families.)
  • When is the event? When do we want the goal accomplished? For the example above, the event was taking place at the end of October. The full goal period, though, was Oct. 31-Dec. 20.
  • Where will the event be?
  • How many people will we connect with? How many people will be at the event? How many workers will you need?

For a goal to be attainable and realistic, you need to assess the situation. In a town of 1,200, you won’t connect with 10 new families—you probably know everyone but that new family on the corner—so your goal might look very different. If you don’t have the staff or volunteer base to produce the whole event, you need to determine whether the goal could be more attainable if certain variables were changed (like creating a co-sponsored event).

Your event is timely if it has a date, a start and end time, and makes sense to those who would attend. (Consider polar-bear swims. You wouldn’t think jumping in a lake in mid-winter was timely … yet it is.) You also need an end date for your goal. In the example above, the team would follow up with new families the second week of December.

3. Consider the five love languages. I firmly believe that if people receive love primarily through the five love languages, we need to make sure that when we're sharing God’s love, we provide for all five love languages. These are:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Acts of service
  • Touch
  • Gifts

In general, try to make sure that you have provided for at least 20 percent of the people to get gifts, perhaps by providing a drawing. You can work words of affirmation throughout the event and purposefully provide for interactions that include touch (such as tug-of-war).

For women’s events, you might find the most delightful woman you know and make her the official hugger/greeter. She can greet people as they arrive with a handshake/hug or word of encouragement. The event itself is an act of service, and quality time can be covered by purposeful listening. Pace the event so people don’t feel like they are on an assembly line.

God has called you for this time and to these people. He is more interested in developing the people in your congregation and reaching those in your community than you are.

As you prepare for your fall events, don’t forget to lay the planning at His feet and ask for His plan. He is on the move and ready to activate your congregation to engage and move the mission forward.

Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor with a master's degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. She is a ministry and life development coach and can be found online at www.deepimprints.com. She writes a weekly column for ministrytodaymag.com.

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