By ministry events, I mean things outside of the normal weekend worship services. For this post, I’m referring to church conferences, seminars, training events, weekend discipleship retreats, outreach events, and any other ministry event settings.
Here are 13 ways they can be improved.
1. Minimal Announcements. People should know what is going on, but it should be done in such a way that it doesn’t require one announcement after the next. Print all you can – make it simple. And then trust that people will catch on. If announcements are needed, designate one energetic person to succinctly take care of sharing them.
2. Team Approach to Leadership. Ministry event planners need to develop a team for both the preparation and the execution of the event. A small, effective leadership team can almost effortlessly take care of volunteers, details and finishing touches. With a team, the questions during the event can be answered by more then one person which keeps from being bottle-necked.
3. Efficient Food Lines. Always make the food lines go quickly. Double the serving lines. If you do have two serving lines, you also need two drink stations, two condiment stations, two dessert stations. Every line you set up should be identical. Often there will be two fast serving lines, then a long wait to get a drink. Experience around food times are critical for the success of the event.
4. Fast Registration Lines. Do as much pre-registration as you can. Make the lines smaller and broken down by name or location. Be very friendly and welcoming. Registration is often the first hiccup of an event and it sets a bad a tone that has to be overcome.
READ – Why large events will always be part of the church: Power of Witness, Power of Community, Power of Numbers…
5. Hospitality Focus. Always answer the question: “Why are we having this event?” You most likely decided somewhere along the way that other people should hear, experience or learn from this speaker or group. Since your primary goal is to gather people, love them! Offer warm hospitality. Help them feel at home. Give them treats and surprises. Treat them with respect.
6. No Yelling. This one is probably more for youth conferences, although I’ve heard it elsewhere too. What I mean by yelling is when ministry event organizers stand in a location and yell out instructions. Examples might be, “This way to the food line” or “Only one sandwich until everyone has gone through” or “don’t forget to pick up your bags in the back.” Each of these can be made clear either with a sign or a calm announcement. But if it happens to be “yelled” as people are getting up, it always comes across oddly. The less organized the event, the more yelling there will be.
7. Relational Focus. People are important and half the fun of a ministry event is the community. Network, love them, stay focused on relationships over administration. Just as any customer service person would do, bend over backwards to help someone feel connected.
8. Proper Chair Set Up. This one is huge. At times, because a ministry event planner wishes to have 300 people in attendance, they set up 300 chairs. There is a difference between expectation and anticipation. I expect about 300 people, but I’m anticipating that probably not everyone will show up, therefore, so it doesn’t look empty, I will set up 200 chairs and have more chairs ready to go if needed. It’s better to have to set up chairs as people are coming in than to have too many set up to start with.
9. Proper Space Usage. 50 people meeting in a huge room feels empty. 50 people meeting a smaller room feels full. Do your best to judge the space for the crowd size. Just because you have a 1000 seat venue, doesn’t mean you need will fill it. You have to do the work to publicize, get a feel for how many you think will attend, and then determine the venue from there.
READ – Four things I give attention to when developing and planning and ministry conference.
10. Music Playing. Music is always good for a ministry event. Play it as people are coming in, over lunch and during breaks. Just be sure the volume is set to enhance the energy and not squelch it.
11. Planned In Advance. Conferences, events and outreaches need to be well planned. The more advance planning, the more it seems as though it comes off naturally.
12. On Time. Starting on time is typically optional. People coming for a day long or evening long ministry event are typically used to starting 5 to 10 minutes after the official start time. However, everyone has the publicized end time ingrained in their mind. They have plans and they expect the host to stick to it. If the event involves a speaker, I always push hard to let them know the time allotment and especially the end time. Music is slightly different and can ebb a flow a little more. I also like to give everyone the gift of 5 minutes. If the ministry event was scheduled to end at 3:00, I try to wrap up and dismiss by 2:55. We include this in most all our ministry event planning.
13. Great Programming. Of course, no amount of great planning will cover up for mediocre programming. If you are going to gather people together for any kind of ministry event or outreach event, be sure it’s high quality.
Increase event attendance in 20 minutes.
11 Steps to effortlessly plan and promote a ministry event.
Ten tips for increasing events at ministry conferences