While a lot of planning goes into Christmas and Easter church services, time and energy go into planning smaller activities, too. Class kick-offs, retreats, vacation Bible schools, or enrollment times for small groups can involve a ton of planning. In creating these events, there are several natural stages that most planners go through without realizing it. In this four-part post, we'll present five clear steps you can take to ensure that every event you plan is successful.
The illustration below shows these five steps in sequence: Defining the Objective (at the center), Brainstorming, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. No matter the size, this framework can be applied to any project planning.
Development Process Wheel
In this post, we'll cover the most crucial and often missed step.
Stage 1: Defining the Objective
Many planners take this one for granted. Yet, defining "the big idea" should drive everything. What does a "win" look like?
My family sat down to play a game one night. We found one on our shelf that I had bought, but we had no clue what it was and never played it. We opened the box and looked at all the contents — five decks of cards. The first thing we wanted to know was, "What's the objective of this game? What do you have to do to win?" I can tell you, the game would not have lasted too long with our kids if we said, "Let's just play and see what happens!"
You can ask the same questions in the earliest stages of planning as you do when you begin to learn a new game. Ask yourself or your team questions like, "What's the point of this?" "Who is this event for, and why should they participate?" "What's the point of this event?" "What problem can this activity solve for someone?" "In what ways would someone benefit from what we're offering?"
What does a "win" look like?
Once you establish the objective, write it down. "That everyone would enjoy social interaction and learn something" is too general. You'd hope every event you plan achieves this. At the same time, having too many reasons will water down the overall objective. Too many messages can create confusion. Challenge yourselves to be specific. Then, refer to it often. It will be your guiding statement throughout the rest of your planning process. All the main components you plan to include with this event should support this objective. If an element doesn't, it will be a distraction, so save it for another time. Even things like ice breakers can support the objective.
This brings us to the next stage: Brainstorming, which we'll cover in the next post.
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Don Wambolt has over 25 years' experience in leading church communications. More