How do you plan your day? How do you plan your month? How do you plan your year? Are you someone who keeps your calendar electronically, or do you prefer a paper planner where you can stuff invitations and detailed notes? Both?
I’ve discovered every person has a unique way of organizing their time, whether they designate blocks of time each day for certain tasks, set rhythms for specific meetings, or fly by the seat of their pants. For me, there are elements of all of these. I have an ongoing calendar connected to my computer and phone, I have a weekly list on my computer that I create each week, and I have a notepad sitting on my desk with scribbled notes of priorities I’m tackling each day. As I am writing this blog, all three of them are in motion.
Scripture addresses planning in various ways as well. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A person’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.” James 4:14 reminds us, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” But we also find this advice in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”
Are these verses a contradiction? It might seem so, but I believe the overarching theme is that life may be uncertain, but God is sovereign. It is good to make plans, but it is best to move forward each day with open hands and an open heart. Even so, a wise ministry leader will consider the year ahead and make plans with these five “B”s in mind.
Budget. A good leader must count the cost of what she wants to do each year. You may or may not receive a budget for your ministry, but a good leader will take a hard look at what things are going to cost and plan accordingly. Your church has an annual budget, so know what’s in it. Is there money for childcare? Funds for resources? Allocations for leadership development? Check out this article on budgeting for tips on making the most of ministry dollars. There’s even a helpful PDF to guide you through the process.
Bible studies. If you are leading ministry to women in your local church, you need an annual plan for discipleship. Consider how many studies you want to offer each year, your church calendar, and levels of learning. The first of the year is a good time for a Bible study kickoff, as well as the fall. And don’t neglect to consider offering something during the summer! Consider how holidays fall and the rhythms of school breaks. Look at the entire Lifeway Women’s Bible study catalog and give yourself time to do some homework on studies that will interest the women in your church. The catalog does a great job of giving you details about the length of studies, whether they have videos, and the length of video teaching. Consider sending a survey to women and asking for their opinions about studies that interest them. Complete the study yourself before offering it to make sure you have a grasp of the content. An easy way to do this is by signing up for the current Lifeway Women online Bible study. You can check out the current one here.
Big events. Most ministry leaders plan each year to have one or two events that gather women for connection, fellowship, and encouragement. Events take time, a team, money, and a good plan. Again, check the church calendar to make sure you aren’t overstepping other important calendar events, discuss your plans with church leaders, and create an event that has purpose. Don’t forget to have a plan for promotion and communication. Again, Lifeway has some helpful tips here on planning an event, along with a PDF that will serve as a guide.
Building your team. The new year is a good time to evaluate who is on your ministry team—if someone needs to rotate off, or if you need to bring new team members into the group. Consider whether you have a team that reflects the diversity of women in your church, including ages, stages of life, different ethnicities, and various stages of spiritual growth. Consider purchasing Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide for Leading Women in the Local Church and walk through the chapters together as a team. There’s one entire chapter on building effective ministry teams.
Bend and Bless. Finally, remember that planning for an entire year can be a challenge. There are unknowns, so being able to bend your plans and be flexible is the key to moving forward. No one predicted a pandemic three years ago, but successful ministry leaders pivoted their plans and adapted to a situation that was out of their control. Ask the Lord to bless the plans you make and trust the results to Him.
Kelly is the manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for Lifeway Christian Resources. She is the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide to Leading Women in the Local Church and contributor to the Lifeway Women’s Bible, as well as the Lifeway Women Advent and Easter studies. In addition, she is the cohost of the MARKED podcast for Lifeway Women. She has a Master of Theology degree from Gateway Seminary and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Ministry degree.