Four Cs of Ministry Planning


By Ryan Schaible

Summer events are in full swing, but the next school year is not too far away. Advanced planning comes with so many benefits – it helps you define your vision and purpose for ministry, utilize your resources more effectively, and even earns you a lot of credibility.

As you look ahead at the year to come, what is your approach to planning? There are many factors in ministry we cannot control, but you CAN control a lot of what goes on your calendar. In a time when so many of our students are already over-burdened with their schedules, we MUST be intentional about how we think about the precious, yet limited, time we have with students. As you begin planning for the year ahead, I would like to offer you the FOUR C’S of ministry planning.

What will you CONTINUE?

Know your context; know what is most effective for your ministry. As you intentionally continue doing certain things, it will help you solidify your ministry vision and purpose. Having traditions and “go to” events can also serve as mile-markers in a student’s life and faith – something they look forward to year after year because it has an impact on their lives.

What will you CHANGE?

Some events are great in theory, but do not necessarily come together exactly as we planned. Sometimes our methods grow stale and need a breath of fresh air. Changes do not always have to be dramatic: small adjustments might be all that is needed to add to your effectiveness.

What will you CUT?

This might be the hardest question to ask ourselves (and our teams). People invest a lot of their time, energy, and emotion into ministry work, so deciding to CUT something from the calendar can be difficult to do – especially when an event is POPULAR (note that “popular” and “effective” are not always the same thing). What is just “filler” on the calendar (and in your headspace) but does not really propel forward your vision and purpose for ministry? Cut it! Use the time you had been spending on ineffective things on the things that truly make a difference.

What will you CREATE?

I intentionally save this question for last. As hard as it is to CUT something from the calendar, it is WAY TOO EASY to add new things. Every week we get a new email, flyer, or phone call about an event, conference, or outreach opportunity. Mix the cornucopia of event ideas with our heartfelt desire to see life change in our students, and you CAN end up with an over-booked calendar.

INNOVATION and CREATIVITY should drive us as ministry leaders. Find the right balance for your context. If there is a blindspot in your ministry, find a way to fix that. Expand beyond new events into new roles, new methods, and new priorities to fulfill your ministry’s particular mission.

Save yourself from the stress of throwing an event together at the last minute. Start planning for the next school year now. Invite your whole team into the process, too. Like so many other aspects of our Christian faith, these four questions are best answered in community. Only you (and God) know the right answers for your particular ministry and context, but I DO know the benefits of long-range planning. Now is the time to start asking the right questions and pursuing the answers!