Fun and engaging church events can boost regular church attendance and create lasting bonds within your congregation. The key is to put together an event that will suit your church’s style and vision without overly stressing your staff and volunteers.
From choosing the date to post-event clean-up and all the details in between, you’ll want to make sure you have a plan of attack that guarantees your event will be successful and, perhaps more importantly, fun!
Here is a list of everything you’ll need to consider when planning and organizing your event.
Who Is the Target Audience?
One of the first things you’ll need to decide is the focus of your event. There can be many church event ideas and goals you may want to achieve.
Is this a fundraiser, outreach event, or community service project? Is it geared specifically toward families, teens, young children, or older adults?
How many people do you want to attend? The size of your event will determine how many volunteers you will need, supplies to be purchased or rented, or venue selection.
Who your event is for will determine everything that follows. Once you know who you want to attend, you can proceed with all the other details.
Set the Date
When setting aside a date and time for your event, take a look at your church calendar to make sure it doesn’t overlap with any other major events. If your event is tied to a holiday, what other things are going on in your church and community that may hinder attendance?
Also, consider other factors that may be an issue. Is your event in the winter where snow and ice could cause a cancellation? Is it outdoors where you may need an indoor option in case of rain?
You’ll also want to give yourself plenty of time to prepare leading up to the event. Many churches start preparations for Christmas festivities as early as August. Even smaller events will take time to plan, so make sure you’ve given yourself enough wiggle room so you aren’t scrambling right up to the day of the event.
In for a Penny
One of the most important factors when planning is your church event budget. Whether on a shoestring budget or going for the gold, you’ll want to list every cost up front so there’s no unexpected sticker shock in the end.
First, you’ll need to decide if this event is free or if you’ll be charging an admission fee, as well as what that fee will be should you decide to go that route. Keep in mind that admission fees, especially significant ones, can affect how many people can attend.
If you will be renting a venue outside of your church location, you will need to keep in mind rental and other fees that may be charged. Some facilities charge clean-up fees or even require you to secure extra insurance to cover their property during your event. Take a thorough look through your contract or speak with the location coordinator to make sure you know all the costs before you proceed.
Other costs to consider are food and entertainment. Are you serving food? Will you need to rent any tables and chairs or equipment? Are you hiring a speaker or a band or a DJ for live music?
Take stock of what you already have on hand before you purchase anything. This also gives you an opportunity to throw out old or stained supplies, upgrade equipment, or improve upon your facility’s sound quality or appearance.
If you’re new to event planning, or just need some extra help putting together a budget, this planner covers all the expenses you might encounter.
Location, Location, Location
For many types of events, you may want to use your church property. There are many benefits to holding your event on your home turf. Your congregation already knows how to get there and you can set up and tear down on your own schedule.
For some events, however, it may be necessary to look outward in your community. If you are doing a community service project or a fundraiser where you want higher visibility, you will need to have a different location.
Your church event venue will determine what type of event you have and how many people it will support, so take a look at those factors when selecting a space for your event.
How many people you will need to volunteer for your event will depend on all the factors we’ve discussed above. How many people you expect to attend, what sort of activities you plan to have, and whether or not you will be serving food will all determine how many folks you will need on hand on the day of your event.
Even in larger churches, finding sufficient numbers of volunteers can be a tricky endeavor. As the organizer, it is your job to create enthusiasm and cast a vision that will motivate others to join your team. What incentives can you offer to get people on board?
Oftentimes you can point toward the intangible rewards of service. What are the goals and objectives of your event? Or perhaps you can use a tangible reward like fun volunteer t-shirts.
Get the Word Out
In the old days, we relied mostly on word of mouth and fliers. These days we have tools available to us that can reach a larger number of people with near minimal effort. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media outlets are easy ways to spread the word.
You can create a unique hashtag leading up to your event to create buzz in the community and give folks a tantalizing glimpse into what is in store. This also heightens the visibility of your church overall. Not only will folks be curious about what you have planned, but they may also take a look at your church website to see what you’re all about as well.
If your budget allows, you may also look into television and radio ads. Even if you do have the extra money to spend, social media posts are free and very easy to put together. Plus you can get your congregation to share on their pages to reach a larger audience.
Whether or not you plan to serve or sell food at your event will greatly affect your planning process. For most church events fun, fellowship, and food go hand in hand.
When providing food for events, you will need paper goods and volunteers to help serve. For some venues outside of your church, you may also need permits for food service. Make sure you check the policies and contracts for that information as you plan.
For some events such as carnivals or Trunk or Treat, you may want to have a concession stand or a food truck. This is a great way to provide food for your guests and recoup some of the costs. Most folks don’t mind spending a small amount on refreshments, so just keep your prices reasonable.
Even if you’re planning a fundraiser or community service project, you may still want to provide beverages and snacks for your volunteers. They have given their time and talents to help out, so it’s always a nice gesture to make sure everyone has what they need to stay fueled and hydrated.
The atmosphere surrounding your event is crucial to setting the tone for the kind of day you want to have. If your event is centered around a particular theme or holiday, you’ll want to gather or purchase decorations or equipment to reflect the occasion.
For instance, if you have chosen to hold a family movie night, you will want to set the mood for the evening. You can give out tickets, rent a popcorn machine, hang movie posters, or set up an old-fashioned candy stand. For more formal events such as conferences, you can still add small details like a coffee bar to set the appropriate tone.
Every small detail enhances the experience for guests of these events.
For the majority of church events, you will most likely want to provide some sort of entertainment. The type you choose will depend on the theme and purpose of your event.
If you’ve chosen to have live music, you’ll need to factor the payment of the musicians or band into your budget. You’ll also need to consider if you have the space they will need to set up their equipment.
Acoustics in churches can also make or break an event, so take a look and see how you can improve the sound in your church.
For indoor events, make sure your space has the proper acoustics to support live music, speakers, or other types of entertainers who will be using a sound system. Having sound levels that are too soft or too loud can seriously inhibit your guest’s enjoyment of the day.
During Church Events
Even after your event has started, you will still need to stay on your toes to address any issues that may arise. You may want to have a few volunteers who act as runners to distribute supplies or who can fill in for others so they can take a break.
One of the most important contingencies will be having the appropriate first aid supplies on hand for minor injuries. If your event is expected to be quite large, you may want to contact your local fire department to see if they’d be willing to have a unit at the event just in case.
Other Things to Consider
Once the event is all planned out, you can take one last look over all the details and ask a few questions. Does this event reflect the core values of your church? Are there any expenses or items that can be pared down?
Look over the goal for your event and make sure everything you’ve planned will achieve that goal. If you’ve planned a fundraiser, will your proceeds exceed your costs? If you’ve planned an outreach event, is it accessible to as many people in your community as possible?
Taking a look back over the big picture will help you see any small details you may have missed as well as draw your attention to things that may not be necessary.
At the End of the Day
Even after your event has ended, you can still extend the benefits and bask in the memories by sharing photos on social media and on your church’s website. Using your unique hashtag, your guests can relive the fun and share their experience with others. Not only does this allow everyone to hang on to fun memories, but it also creates excitement in your congregation and your community for your next event.
Also, take a moment to meet with your team and volunteers to go over what worked well and what did not work so well. It is important for planning your next event to know your successes and where you can improve.
Another important step after your event is to send out a thank you email to all of your attendees. You’ll want them to know that you’re grateful they chose to spend their day with your church and that you’d love to see them again at another function.
Lastly, feel free to take a moment to breathe and enjoy the fruits of your labors.
Final Thoughts on Planning Church Events
Successful church events take a lot of planning and preparation, but the results are rewarding. They can be used as an opportunity to grow your church attendance or create lasting bonds within your congregation.
Before planning any event, take a look at what your church’s overall goals are. What needs have not been met? Where can there be the most benefit? What event best matches your church’s vision and priorities?
Church events also give you an opportunity to see where your church can most grow and improve. Do you need to update your facility or equipment?
Any event shines a light on your church and its place in your community. With these steps, you’re on your way to creating a memorable affair that folks will remember for years to come.
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