Simplify Your Church Calendar with Five Significant Steps

For many good reasons, church leaders often desire to simplify their schedules.

  • They know too many programs is paralyzing for new people, as the next step is unclear.
  • They know that it is impossible for their church to do everything well.
  • They see leaders exhausted and they know activity does not equate with transformation.
  • They want to see people in the church know their neighbors and interact in the community and not just attend a plethora of programs.

Yeah, there really are a lot of reasons to simplify. But it is easier desired, imagined, and said than accomplished. Yelling about it and taking a hatchet to your church’s schedule is not the wisest approach. What can a ministry leader do? Here are five steps to consider:

1. Clarify your discipleship process.

The biggest mistake leaders make when desiring to simplify their programs is to start with their programs.Start with your discipleship process, not with your programs. What is your overarching strategy for making disciples? Clarify and communicate that to people before you attempt to adjust your church schedule.

2. Show how your programs are tools in your discipleship process.

As you clarify your discipleship process, show how the programs you offer are tools in your discipleship process. Champion the essential programs in your process as important environments that facilitate discipleship. As you shine more and more light on the most important, the less important can begin to fade.

3. Emphasize personal mission.

What does mission have to with simplifying a calendar? A lot. The role of a believer is not to continually attend programs at church. Believers are to reconcile people to Christ, just as Christ has reconciled us to Himself. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is a missionary or an imposter.” In God’s providence, He has placed believers in their professions, their neighborhoods, and in their school districts. And it is not so they could drive through those areas on the way to church five nights a week.

4. Show how an over-programmed calendar harms mission.

When people have a desire to serve people in the community, they don’t beg for more programs at church. Instead they value space in their personal lives to know their neighbors, to be involved in their kids’ schools, to coach in the rec leagues, and to get to know people who do not follow Christ. Ministry leaders are wise to point out how an over-programmed church calendar competes with personal mission. If people are at the church all the time, they are rarely in the community.

5. Simplify

Only after you have laid a foundation for discipleship and mission should you start to simplify your church calendar. As you do so, continually remind people of the why beneath the changes.

Connect with the Auxano team to learn more about simplifying your calendar to increase ministry effectiveness.

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Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
— Carter Kerns
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
— Jon Moore
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks

Clarity Process

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