For many churches, planning for the year is a big deal and requires a lot of time plus energy. If you or your church haven’t taken the needed time to plan, I would recommend that you use this season to plan for what is ahead. I know that you can’t plan in as much detail as you would like because we don’t know what is going to happen next. We don’t know what parts of the state will be open to do what. And we don’t know if more cases will rise in the next few weeks or months.
However, for everything that we don’t know, what we do know is that the gospel has to continue to move forward. We know that people need Christ now more than ever, and we know that God has favored us to be used for this purpose. So how do we pivot our planning?
Pivot #1 – Pivot your research of what is needed. In a normal planning season, many churches would research their congregation and their community to see what the needs or interests might be. I remember one year as we were planning, we knew that a family series was of great interest. As a result, our team created a series around family issues and their impact on each person within the family.
Also, like many churches, sometime in the year we do a series around love and relationships, as this theme engages the congregation as well as the community. Our senior pastor, Rev. Matthew L. Watley, is also really great about leading us toward doctrinal and theological series to focus on the kingdom.
However we go about planning in this season, we will all need to pivot our series of teachings, our focus on outreach, as well as our team in order to build and develop leaders differently. This is where the research comes in; we should have always been looking to other industries, but even more in this season.
How are schools, theme parks and/or hotels planning to reopen? Why is this important? Great question. It is important because many of these industries have more resources than we do so they can show us what you can do if money weren’t an issue. Another reason to watch these industries is because many of our congregants also work in these industries, and how they’re impacted will also impact how they interact with the church.
One example is the current proposed “A and B” schedule for the workplace and the school system. In our state, one of the proposed reopening plans for some schools is to have students in groups “A or B,” and each group will come to school at different times or during different weeks. This will allow them to keep social distance and also allow them to contact trace. I have seen some of the businesses in our area now also practicing the same plan to reopen to match what the school system might look like.
How does this impact your planning for the church? I would imagine that some churches might see the off-week for parents and students as an opportunity to help the parents and students connect with each other and with Christ. If your student ministry person knows that students won’t be in school every week, but on certain days, that can help them plan how you create student ministry opportunities for them. In this season, we have to be mindful of how we plan by making a pivot in your research of what is next.
Pivot #2 – Pivot your thought on seasonal ministry. I spoke about this a little in the previous pivot, but this year, maybe more than any other, is the year to look at your yearly calendar differently. If you always did an event during the Christmas season, do you keep that or change it? Not only might you need to pivot the planning of the seasonal ministry event as it relates to the calendar year, but you might also need to pivot the how. We must all ask ourselves if we still do that Christmas event, how will we do it? Will we do it only online or do some online and on campus? Or will we do some online, at our current church location and then some in another location closer to those we want to impact in order to provide the right amount of social distancing? These questions as well as others, you will have to answer with your ministry team.
Pivot #3 – Pivot your practice on event partnerships. I remember when I was in full-time student ministry, before I transitioned to my current role leading all of our ministries, we used to do several ministry events, and namely, a youth retreat with over 500 students in partnership with several churches. During that season it was great, but the question now would be do we partner in that way with other churches given the guidelines for distancing, or do we hold smaller events only for students from our church.
Your teams need to think through these events and the impact on the ministry. On the other side, your church might want to partner with other churches as a way to reach and impact more people using less ministry dollars while making a larger social imprint. The goal here would be to examine your calendar year and see the places where you have partnered and the places where you can partner to reach and impact more people for Jesus Christ.
How does your church plan for the year? How has your church made pivots in light of this current season? What would you change or add?