Review the programme from the previous autumn term (Sept – Dec 2017). What worked well? What could have been done better? Learn from these experiences for the forthcoming term, and then make sure you review all activity and record feedback from this term to aid preparation for autumn 2019. It’ll be here again before you know it.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. What can you learn from other churches? What best practice can you draw upon. There’s no such thing as plagiarism in God’s church.
Consider how your programme will aid effective welcome and integration. You should plan in the expectation that there’ll be lots of visitors, as people who’ve moved into the area for schools etc. will be checking out churches. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you like to be welcomed to church? What sort of programme of events and services will best help them feel welcome and connected?
Good communication will be key. What information about the autumn can you publish to the church membership before the summer break. A calendar for the term? Save the date requests? Your autumn teaching themes and focus? Is your church website calendar fully up-to-date with all your autumn information? Then, once autumn rolls around, what information is a newcomer wanting from your church? How can you put them at ease as they explore whether your church is right for them? Consider the use of welcome packs and FAQS for newcomers.
Be strategic. Doing too much (and therefore not doing it well) may be the same as doing nothing. Communicating too much is often the same as communicating nothing. For each suggested event, course or service, ask yourself the following:
- Is this manageable?
- What level of support or resource will it take to not only do this satisfactorily, but to do this really well? Is this achievable? Consider:
- Human resource. How many people will this take and who? Who has responsibility? How busy are they already and when are their planned rest times?
- Financial resource. What will it cost and is this agreed?
- Physical resource. Do we have the space, rooms etc.?
- Time resource. How busy is the calendar. Are events spaced out enough or are we expecting too much attendance from people / team? Does our calendar of individual events support and build on each other, or do they hinder each other’s success?
- What should we stop as well as start?
Talk with your leadership and set some clear priorities for the term, the year ahead and make sure these translate in detail to individual team members and areas of ministry. People thrive when they know what they’re working towards.
Remember the autumn term is a marathon and not a sprint. Inevitably it will end with Christmas and this is a prime opportunity to communicate the life transforming love of Christ with our communities. Therefore, we owe it to them to be at our best for Christmas, not dragging our tired bodies across the finish line. Please try and keep this in mind as you agree an appropriate amount of activity for the autumn.
Consider your flow of events and keep thinking about the next steps. If you’re greeting a newcomer, what’s next for them after the initial welcome? – Alpha, small group, social, welcome course etc.? When you’re hosting guests for Christmas and someone shows interest, what’s next?
Make plans and agree the responsibility and person requirements for implementation in advance. This will increase ownership and give your team the opportunity to voice concerns or raise questions of capacity. Once the plan is agreed, you can then collectively ‘give it your all’ to see it become a reality.
Pray, have fun and encourage your team (volunteers and employed) to pull together and be gracious with each other. The autumn term will require a lot of hard work and effort, but it will be much easier when accomplished from an attitude of togetherness.
Above all, remember that it’s God who builds His church… and He’s got a great administration team on board.