10 ways to prepare for a new calendar or program year
Many of my recent coaching sessions have focused on ending the year well while preparing for the new year. Here are a few thoughts on ways you can prepare for making the coming year even better than the present one:
- Set staff and congregational Goals. Leading well is about doing the right things, the right way at the right time. Spending time writing and sharing goals among leaders now will enhance the budgeting process, increase collaboration and help give people permission to say “no” to what’s been done in the past.
- Assess current strategies. Leaders pay attention to results and if the results they’re getting aren’t what they anticipated, then it may be time to step back, discern what’s working and what’s not working, and to wonder if the current assumptions we hold are valid. Leaders are charged with living into God’s mission but that doesn’t mean they can’t change the models and strategies for getting there. You may find that you get better results and can move forward faster by letting go of what’s been done in the past and piloting something new.
- Review your congregation’s spending plan. Identify where you’re seeing the greatest impact for the dollars invested. Consider ways to redirect dollars from maintenance to mission. Review all existing leases and contracts. You may find that you can save substantial funds by shopping around every year.
- Meet with church employees. Perform an annual review. Update job descriptions. Discuss ways to redirect one’s time and energy toward areas of ministry they’re most gifted in, passionate about, and are the best uses of their time. Discuss continuing education and plans for growing in faith and leadership. Ask people where they see God leading them in the coming years and how that might impact their current and future role within the congregation. Take time to discern if the role each person is playing is the right fit for them, and if your particular congregation is the right ministry setting. Annual performance reviews help get the right people on the bus, and in the right seats. They also lead to conversations about if and when it’s time to get off the bus.
- Meet with volunteers. Take time to affirm their contributions, celebrate their gifts and explore with them where God might be leading them in ministry for the coming year. Ask them what you can do to support their efforts. Explore ways to best use their gifts for maximum kingdom impact. Gather their perspectives and wisdom about the mission and ministries of the church. Ask them, “What brought you here?” and “What keeps you here?” if you don’t already know.
- Review your publicity and publications from the past year. First of all, are the communication vehicles user-friendly and engaging for people to read. Is the content engaging, relevant and support the formation of lifelong discipleship. What clutter or “noise” needs to be removed so that the key messages stand out? Do the publications have a similar look or brand? Do they convey the same essential messages? What stories need to be shared that haven’t been so far this past year? Consider what changes might be needed for 2015.
- Discern members’ next steps. If our task is to meet people where they’re at and walk alongside them in their journey of faith, how might we honor where they’re at, and where they’d like to go in the coming year? How might we intentionally invite people into a deeper faith that’s lived 24/7/365, while also realizing that not everyone is ready at this time to take the next step.
- Read the congregational landscape. In what ways have worship patterns changed this past year? Who’s become more involved and who has checked out? What areas of ministry are filled with energy? What ministries seem to struggle or perhaps need closure?
- Update policies, procedures and emergency plans. Policies and procedures should be reviewed and updated every year. Every church should have a plan to activate in the event of an emergency. The time to prepare for an emergency is BEFORE it happens.
- Create a 2015 planning calendar. This isn’t the same as the “master calendar” that has every congregational event that takes place on and off-site for the entire year.
Which of these 10 items, would lead to a more impactful future for your congregation? What might you add to this list that would help leaders prepare for a better future?