Planning Systems

Summer is almost gone, and the new school year is fast approaching fast, so during the month of August, we’ll be talking about planning. Planning is one of the most vital parts of every effective children’s ministry. Without it, even the most talented and spiritual children’s pastors will fail. A planning system is the first step.

Every children’s pastor should have a planning system. There are many planning systems to choose from. There are computer programs, various planning notebooks, apps for smart phones and tablets, and good old-fashioned spiral notebooks and legal pads. The important thing is to choose a system that is easy to use and works for you.

These are the items every good planning system should have:

Monthly Calendar: Try not to have a number of calendars floating around for church, home, and other activities. Your home, church, and work calendars need to be combined. You can use color coding to categorize events. But if you don’t combine your calendars, it can make things confusing, and you will end up forgetting something because it was in the other calendar.

One way around having multiple calendars is to computerize your calendar and have it synced on all of your devices. Windows Live, Google Calendars, Dropbox, and I-cloud are all easy to use and set up. If you need instructions, just type your questions in your search engine for step by step directions.

If you’re old school and use paper calendars, make sure you have one main calendar that records all your events. That calendar will have to be portable so you can take it with you wherever you go.

To Do or Task List: Use a monthly, weekly, or daily to do list to remind you of tasks you need done. Be sure to list if you are delegating any of these tasks and need to follow-up and with whom. You can use a task list app on your smart phone or tablet, but be sure to sync it to all your devices. This works well for delegating because you can send email or text reminders.

Address/Contact List: Don’t just list personal contacts. Keep a list of children’s workers, students in your ministry, and businesses that have resources you may need. Communication with email, texting, and Facebook has never been easier.

Important Personal Info: This would be birth dates, medical insurance, tax ID number for the church, and other important information you might need. OneNote or Pages are two great programs to keep all information like this stored in one place.

Schedule: This can be weekly or daily depending on your needs. Schedule like activities together. For instance, any phone calls you need to make could all be made at the same time. Also errands that need to be run, if all done at once, will take less time.

Project Manager: Any large project you have should have a project timeline, staff list, and budget. This will save you time in the long run. After you create your timeline, add events to your calendar and to do lists.

File Program: You need a program where you can store all the information you need. In the past, a filing cabinet would be used, but now OneNote and Pages does the work of a filing cabinet and is easier to use.

Planning may seem like a lot of work until you’re used to doing it. But in the long run, it will save you time and energy and keep you focused on ministry goals. Throughout the month, I’ll review ways to do this and apps and programs that will help.

What To Do When You Have Too Much To Do

At some point in every overworked children’s pastor’s life, he or she will become overwhelmed with a number of major issues and projects at one time. Summer is one of the busiest times on the children’s ministry calendar and can make a children’s pastor want to run away to some tropical island that doesn’t have children. help is on the way. Here’s what to do when the pressure of your to do list bears down on you.

1. Make A To Do List: Write down everything you need to do no matter how small or large. Just having it written down in black and white will relieve some of the pressure because you don’t have to remember everything.

2. Pray Over The List: Before you start tackling your to do list, lay hands on it and pray for God’s wisdom and guidance. This is a must.

3. Cross Off Unimportant Items: Look through the list. Cross off anything that doesn’t have to be done. You may want to color code your puppets and alphabetize your object lessons, but you don’t need to do that. Say no to the perfectionist within you. But don’t stop there. Any projects, events, or meetings that aren’t essential should also be crossed off.

4. Procrastinate: Write a new to do list of items that can wait until this crisis period is over. There are things that need to be done but can wait. During crunch time, only do what you have to do now. After making your procrastination list, file it. Then write on your calendar the date you’ll pull the wait to do list back out.

5. Delegate: This is the time to rally the troops. Check every item that can be done by someone other than you. Then call in your family, friends, and children’s ministry team and be brutally honest. Tell them you’re in over your head and need their help during this short-lived busy season.

6. Prioritize: Look at the list you have left. Group like jobs together to make them easier. Then number the list in order of importance.

7. Limit Interruptions: Tell friends and co-workers you’ll be unavailable except during certain times. This will give you large chunks of time to get busy on the to do list.

8. Have Fun: After tackling some of the jobs, take a break and do something relaxing and fun. When you get back to work, you’ll be relaxed and better able to handle the stress.

9. Take Care of Yourself: Exercise and healthy eating help you keep down your stress levels which will help you work faster and be more productive.

10. Unwind: After the crisis period, take a little time to yourself to unwind before tackling the jobs you put off. It you don’t allow yourself downtime, you may find yourself burning out.