How to Run a Successful Church Event
Are big church events a miss … or missiological?
By: Gigi Weaver | Communications & Marketing Habits & Culture
Ensure Success for Your Next Big Church Event
Will your next big church event be a miss or contribute to your overall mission? Sometimes it’s tough to discern. They can be a mark of a healthy church and work culture when done well. They create growth, energy, connection, and direction.
But when done poorly, the staff and ultimately the volunteers, suffer.
So do we risk investing in big events? Are they worth the effort?
If 2020 taught us anything about events, it is that they bring us together to worship, to laugh, to learn. To be.
We need to gather.
Our team of creatives has served in a multitude of churches as staff and volunteers, and as members of ArtSpeak, we have the unique privilege of serving many churches and ministries now. We’ve seen big events go well, and we’ve experienced the pitfalls.
We haven’t found utopia, but we have some ideas on how to make big events part of your church’s overall mission—not just the short-term objective of inviting a lot of people, but of contributing to the overall life and health of your church.
The 4 Steps to Planning a Successful Church Event
- Shift Your Goal from Perfection to Imperfect Excellence
- Establish Healthy Rhythms for Your Team and Volunteers Before the Event
- Take Care of Your Team’s Basic Needs During the Event
- Create and Share Next Steps for Those Who Attend
1. Shift Your Goal from Perfection to Imperfect Excellence
It’s clear our world has a standard of excellence when we attend Disney Parks, concerts, and TED Talk conferences. Even when people can’t articulate why an event is excellent, they can clearly identify when it’s not.
Since our culture has set the standard for excellence, we don’t want to distract people with anything less when they walk through our doors.
For example, when people visit your home, they’ll notice if you don’t vacuum your carpet regularly. Or if your piano is out of tune and you are a house church, it’s distracting. Even if we aren’t hosting a large gathering like a conference, community event, or concert, we still hold ourselves to a silent standard of excellence.
But excellence has a dark side called perfection.
Many of us don’t even notice that we have suddenly slipped over the line that divides the two and think we are running our teams and our events with a brand of excellence that leaves no room for error. This is perfection. Excellence then begins to supersede your team, volunteers, and attendees.
But what if our goal with big events shifted to what we at ArtSpeak refer to as imperfect excellence?
Imperfect excellence is an ArtSpeak creativity core value that leaves room for mistakes while still striving for the best.
Excellence is about who we are serving, the environment, heart, and message. But perfection is self-serving.
When imperfect excellence becomes the goal, your team will thrive, your church culture will be healthy, and you will produce an amazing event. But when perfectionism is in place, it leads to a negative mark of big event culture: burnout.
2. Establish Healthy Rhythms for Your Team and Volunteers Before the Event
Maybe you’ve heard (or even said) this before:
It’s just a season.
This event will reach so many people.
We make sacrifices to share the gospel.
This is part of the job.
But take it from us: what your team hears is:
“We need more of you, but bigger, better, faster, and cheaper than last year. And you need to figure it out yesterday.”
This kind of silent messaging tied to church events can create a burnout culture in your team before the event even begins, especially when you don’t pull off tasks from your team members’ plates while asking more of them. In addition to the big event(s), Sunday is always coming.
The truth is:
Your team wants to do well.
They want to share the gospel.
They are willing to make sacrifices.
But they also want to eat, sleep, see their families, and enjoy the event and their teammates while they put the event together.
We’ve seen this work well instead:
- Sit down with each team member who will carry a big role in executing your event.
- Go through their task list with them and evaluate if you need help on a seasonal basis to meet the existing needs of your ministry and the needs of your large events.
Team bandwidth is a resource. It’s smart to help your team members prioritize their work and decide if they need more help for a season.
A warning for leaders: We can erroneously assume our team is functioning well if we, as leaders, are thriving. But our teams can be operating at an unsustainable pace while we’re totally unaware!
Sit down with your team members. You don’t need to promise they’ll never experience tiring days. But you can work to reduce burnout when the church event is over.
3. Take Care of Your Team’s Basic Needs During the Event
When you host guest speakers or bands at your church, you make sure they have a nice spread of food or drinks (or both) that meets their needs (and wants). Have the same careful consideration for your team as the big event arrives.
When the long days begin, make sure that those team members don’t need to worry about the daily things.
Help take care of meals or coffee.
Create a space for the volunteers or staff members to leave their kids during rehearsals so they don’t need to figure out childcare.
Don’t ask if they would like coffee. Ask what their coffee order is.
Don’t simply talk about your team being a family. Help take care of their families in the longer seasons.
Your team is striving for excellence. Take care of them with excellence where you can. This will relieve your team and help them thrive, even in the busy seasons.
4. Create and Share Next Steps for Those Who Attend
One of the best ways to increase your church event’s effectiveness is:
Don’t make the end of the event the end of your plan.
The event should be the peak of the experience for the team and the attendee, but it’s the beginning of the journey. You’ve spent time and energy to make this event life-giving. Have a plan to invite them to what’s next for your church. For example, if Christmas is the beginning of the attendee’s experience, then spend five minutes of your event making a compelling invitation for the exciting season coming next.
Take it from our video team at ArtSpeak: The promo video for the next big event is more important than the countdown or opening video. People are already bought in and excited about the event they are currently attending. Create a compelling video to get them excited about what comes next, too.
>>Related Resource: How to Create a Marketing Campaign for Your Church ›
This helps your team to be partners in the greater vision, as well. The event becomes about the life change after the event and the things ahead.
And, if you help your team finish the event at a sustainable pace, it gives them peace that there will be exciting things to come at a sustainable pace. It alleviates the need to constantly crash and ramp up.
Creating a Community for Creatives
The future belongs to the creative, and if you are reading this and leading or part of the creative team at your church, your work is valuable and vital.
The ArtSpeak Creative Community is an online community of mission-minded creatives helping fellow creatives restore their health and rediscover their creative purpose.
To learn more about the community and sign up for a free month, check out The ArtSpeak Creative Community here ›
If you are a leader and interested in improving or enhancing your big events or your church culture, we’d love to help. Fill out the form below for a free 30-minute consultation, and we’ll discuss your needs.