One of the trickiest aspects of ministry work is planning for an entire year when a church is made up of several affinity groups. Each year you have leaders planning for adult, student, children, serve, and mission ministries. As churches grow so do the number of groups. And although every ministry is doing great things and and planning great enrichment opportunities, ministries can tend to become silos that operate independently from one another. It doesn’t mean church leaders aren’t working together toward a mission and/or vision; it means that sometimes big picture planning and team awareness can fade into the background.
While every ministry is doing their own great things, one ministry will feel the burden of helping every ministry in a church succeed in mission: Support Ministries. Communications, tech, facilities, and any other staff or volunteer group that helps accomplish individual ministry and church-wide goals is, in my opinion, a support ministry. If you’re like me, you can become overwhelmed with saying yes to every request, putting in extra time, and juggle several projects at once to make sure any ministry event or activity is a success. That can be draining, especially if the level of expectations for quality and timeliness are consistently high, not leaving support any margin for error or the comfort to say no. Perhaps as communication leaders who support every ministry we can help at least generate an awareness.
I recently developed and led a team building exercise to try to do just that. The directions listed below are the actual instructions that I used to lead the team building exercise. The only addition here in this post is the resources and preparation needs for you to put this activity into action. Use the resources and make any edits or adaptations to fit your own church’s context.
Activity Leader Preparation Notes
- Create cards for all of your main ministry teams. You can have as much fun as you want with these, but I made some simple ones that are all different colors with a standard “logo” for each ministry—mostly I just used the abbreviation for each one. (here is a Canva template for the cards or “tokens”)
- Make the calendar by marking off a stretch of the floor with blue painter’s tape. I followed our carpet squares, which made it easy, but the basic set up is about a 2 ft. x 2 ft. square for each month and labeled from Jan.—Dec. in one line. (here is a Canva template for the months)
- Print the instructions to hand out during the activity along with the cards. Use the instructions I have linked here and modify them to your own church as you see fit.
The activity lasts about 45–60 minutes and ends up being pretty interactive. As the leader of the activity, walk around the room to answer questions or guide ministry leaders. The important thing to keep reminding people as they work through the activity is that there is no judgment or value being made on specific events or ministries. The goal of the session is to learn what you value personally within your own ministry and then place everything out alongside other ministries to capture a picture of the overall plans for every ministry.
Ministry Planning Activity
For this activity, you are being tasked with identifying what you see as your most important ministry strategies. Each group, you have been given 48 “Tokens” to divide amongst all of your ministry plans for the year—the tokens represent time, people, resources, missional value, etc. The following steps to this exercise will help us create an awareness for what happens throughout the year, both personally and corporately, as well as learn what each of us values within our personal ministries. This is not a planning session nor a judgment or value exercise. Follow the steps below to complete the mission of connecting people to life-defining relationships in Christ.
Phase 1: Identify your yearly goals
- As a group, list 8–14 unique ministry events that you plan for next year
- Especially identify big events or programming, i.e. Perfect Gift
- Weekly events or programming should be represented as a one-time launch, i.e. HS Fuel happens every week, but it “kicks off” in the Fall
- Include minor events that are regularly occurring or planned more than a week or two in advance, i.e. Mission Recaps
- Once the list is complete, identify the month that each of your 8–14 ministry events occur
Phase 2: Assign your tokens
- For each of your ministry events, take your 48 tokens and divide them up
- For events that require more time and resources, assign more tokens
- For events that have high missional alignment and impact, assign more tokens
- Review your list and negotiate with your group how you have divided all of your tokens
- Once you are satisfied, write the name of the event on each token that you have assigned, i.e. if you put 12 tokens on Launch, then write Launch on those 12 tokens
Phase 3: Plot your ministry event tokens
- Take all of your tokens that you assigned to each event and place them in the corresponding months on the floor.
- Line your tokens up in a single horizontal row, i.e. if you have 10 tokens for Fusion kickoff in August, place those 12 tokens in the August box in a row
- Step back as a group and evaluate the whole year and all tokens and take notes with the following questions:
- What do you notice about your own yearly plans?
- What do you notice about the yearly plans as a whole church?
- What seems to be the theme of our ministry year?
- What challenges might we face based on what you see planned for the year?
- Does the visual on the ground cause you to rethink your ministry? The ministry of our church?
Download the instructions for this activity here and help guide your church through the next ministry year.