One of the essentials for leading an outreach-focused, growing church (and likewise RARELY present in a stagnant one) is a detailed 12-month church growth calendar created six months before that calendar year begins. What I mean by this is the Senior Pastor and team must create a roadmap for the congregation to follow, which, when executed, will ignite church growth.
I always tell Senior Pastors I coach to picture themselves as the vacation planners for the entire church. Have you ever been on a trip that someone else organized, only to show up and realize that nothing was planned? Don’t you hate that? You stand around wasting time and feeling frustrated.
It turns out that the people we lead hate that too.
Your job as a Senior Pastor is to go out 12-24 months into the future, map out the terrain, get a tangible feel for what your church will look like when it is 25 percent larger, then come back and put together the action steps to make that happen.
Your annual church growth calendar is the road map you create to take your entire church back to that place (12-24 months away) that you just came from.
As Senior Pastors we create the road map to get our churches to the place God has laid out for us in the future.
That’s why I tell people that one of the tangible differences between Senior Pastors of growing churches and Senior Pastors of stagnant ones is that the leaders of the growing ones have taken the time to figure out (a) what causes churches to grow and (b) crafted an annual calendar that their entire team follows to make that happen.
What to Include in a Church Growth Calendar
Here are the seven things we always include our church’s annual growth calendar:
1. 12 Monthly Special Events
Every calendar needs to have a special congregational event, each month, DURING its weekend services, that give congregants additional opportunities to invite their friends.
The events we have planned for 2016 are:
January Justice Day
February Marriage Makeover
April David Akers Speaking (former Philadelphia Eagles player)
May Mother’s Day photos
June Man Series/Car Show/Homeless shelter drive
July Kids’ Camp Sunday (special day following massive camp)
August Special speaker
September Back to Church Sunday (we will also honor first responders since it will be 9/11)
November Money Series
December Christmas Eve
Here is our entire 2016 Church Growth Calendar. But let me give some context to one of the events we’ve created that have created a lot of traction for us. In January 2016, we host a special “Justice Day” to precede the week of Martin Luther King Day. Last year we had Bob Goff speak. Before that we invited International Justice Mission. This year World Relief will present on the refugee crisis.
To make this a special event we will hand out Invite Cards. We’ll put out 10-15 step stake signs, a banner on the property, send an html email to the congregation to forward to their friends, and have the entire staff perform an orchestrated social media blitz.
Why Special Events Matter
The goal is to give our people an extra opportunity to invite their friends to something of meaning.
In a previous post I mentioned that if you want to grow by 100 people, you have to have 1,000 people come through your doors in a year’s time. I also said 250 of those people will come at Christmas Eve, 250 at Easter and the remaining 500 will be evenly divided among the 12 months of the year.
With that in mind, this is an event to help bring 42 people through our doors in January (500 divided by 12 = 42 people needed in January to hit our 1,000 annual target). We also know that if we want to grow by 200 people this year we’ll need to attract closer to 100 new visitors a month.
2. 12 Inviting Sermon Series’ to Begin on Opposite Weeks From Our Special Event Sundays
You don’t want to start a new series on the same day you have your Special Sundays. That’s wasting a great opportunity to have TWO things to which your people can invite friends.