Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4 Hard Lessons From Planning an Event

I just learned last week that an upcoming waterski trip I had planned for the end of our summer has the wrong dates booked with the campground. So instead of arriving on a Wednesday, we have to show up on Thursday. All our communication says the Wednesday date, and we've been planning on this trip for months, but the campground has Thursday, and there's no way to change it. My entire plan and schedule needs to change. I'm still baffled as to how this all happened, but I'm learning a lot through it:

Plan ahead: I understand that everyone is busy in ministry, and so that's why it took you five days before the event to book the rental vans or order the T-Shirts or call the camp to see if they have your reservation. Delayed planning only leads to increased stress and mediocrity for the event itself. Give yourself time. Schedule an hour or two each week even months away from the event for planning. If nothing else, pray during that time for the people who will participate.

Details matter: Get exact amounts, dates, times, places, distances, etc. When you say that the drive will be 5 hours, or 280 miles, but it's really 5 hours and 45 minutes and 315 miles, that's added time, gas money, and a loss of credibility with parents and students when you arrive 45 minutes late. If you think you booked the camp for a Wednesday, double-check that detail at least a month out. Have a good plan B (or plan C, if plan B falls apart too!) If you're not a good details person, find someone who is to check your work. I'm grateful to have a few key detail-oriented people in my life to keep me accountable.

Delegate well: Finding the right people to do the right jobs at the right time is...well...exhausting. It sometimes feels more difficult to delegate tasks to others than to just take them on yourself, but if an event is going to happen without you burning yourself out, it has to happen. Plus, it helps train and raise up other leaders to do the work of ministry. Jesus wasn't the only one who preached the gospel of the kingdom; he sent out his disciples numerous times to preach and heal and cast out demons. Sometimes they didn't do a great job, so he helped them out and trained them for next time. If the Son of God delegated ministry, maybe I should too.

Communicate clearly about change: It's three weeks away, and I have seven students signed up; my budget needs about 75 to come along. The camping trip is a replacement for the week-long summer camp our church has done since the beginning of time. Everyone loved summer camp; replacing it with a  waterski trip has been a surprisingly difficult shift. Even though I've been talking about this trip since the beginning of 2011, I don't think I have been as clear about it as I could have been. Despite the announcements, posters, website, and Facebook posts, when students are asked why they aren't going or haven't signed up, the typical response is a shrug alongside, "what is it, exactly?" It's just not what they're used to. Change--even really good change--is difficult for people to navigate. They need clear information and direction in order to get on board with a vision for change. I'm learning to be even more clear.

This is one of those ministry moments where I remember that I still have a lot to figure out. I'm pretty thankful to serve a gracious God who works in and through me despite my best efforts to mess things up!

1 comment:

  1. Great advice. I'm worried about falling behind on my youth groups camp out plans for next month, and this gave me the little push I needed to get moving!