Skip to Main Content

Christian Retreats Network

BlogBlog Post

Event Planning Timelines

By Zach

Remember having to meet with an advisor in High School and college to map out when you'd take what classes so that you could graduate on time and be prepared for the next steps.... Now that you're in real life do you still do that? Have you ever mapped out the best case scenario for something you'd like to do in the future?

Sure there are a ton of legitimate reasons why things may or may not work out. But dream with me just for a little bit... I'm going to share examples for a smaller, local church event (maybe a community outreach) and then a larger convention (gathering of multiple churches from a region).


Larger Convention

  • Prayer it is the best start for every plan. Especially when you're not aware of a plan in the first place. God inspired ideas are the best ideas.
  • Brainstorm with your ministry peers. Every idea has a place on the whiteboard. Often this is where God will bring clarity to ideas you've been praying about.
  • Test your ideas. Find a cross-section of the people who'd possibly attend your event and test out the dates, the purpose, find out exactly what your guests would want to gain from attending the event.

Local Church Event

  • Prayer. If its not God-inspired it is not worth it. In local church ministry you're exposed to the needs of your community every day. God will inspire the right means to reach out and meet those needs.
  • Gain buy-in. One of the greatest challenges of any organization is continuing to look outward and not focus on inward comforts or problems. Inspire your congregation to want to reach out the community.
  • Test the idea, what does your community thinks of your church, what keeps them from attending and come up with ideas that break down those barriers.


Larger Convention

  • There are so many details to figure out for an event. Its essential to have a team.
  • Create clear and well understood goals and objectives with your team.
  • Divide and conquer. There are many tasks that need to all be accomplished find someone to be the expert with venues, entertainment, promotions, etc.
  • 12-15 months in advance secure a host venue.
  • 12 months in advance lock-in the basics and begin promoting: who, what, when, where, & how-much

Local Church Event

  • Sure its easy to think local-event, hold it at the church... But crossing the threshold of a building with a steeple is a no-can-do for some people. Consider using city park, the high school auditorium, community center, etc.
  • Determine your target audience and continue testing your ideas. Plan an event that meets the need your audience has not the need you think they have.
  • 9-12 months in advance, set-up the basics for your event: who, what, when, where, how-much


Larger Convention

  • 9-12 months in advance begin to announce the details of entertainment, activities, and theme.
  • Open your event for registration and offer multiple registration periods at least 9 months in advance and continue promoting & registering through 30 days before the event.
  • Create three to four check-ups throughout the process where you can adjust strategies if needed.
  • Read our event marketing white-paper for more details on 'the drip' plan.

Local Church Event

  • You can plan the best outreach in the world and no one will show up if you don't promote the event.
  • Share your event. When, where, and who ought to be common knowledge in your community.
  • Your community can see through a 'five-step plan' to get people involved. Instead inspire people to build relationships (which they are already doing with the neighbors and co-workers) that way invitations are genuine.


Same principals for Local Church Events and Larger Conventions

  • For the last month leading up to your event, focus on your guests; deal with as many of the administrative tasks before hand.
  • Remember the divide and conquer idea earlier.  Same principal, just as you divided up tasks in planning details you can divide and conquer your planning time line as well.
  • Keep track of registration so that you can meet your attendance goals one month before your event and shift your efforts to investing the lives of your guests during the event.
  • Create a means to follow-up with your guests, txt message list with inspirational txts from your guest speaker, sign ups for regular church activities, next year's dates...

If you're stuck planning every event at the last second... Look for an opportunity to take an event that is still 12-18 months away and apply a long-term slowly bur surely approach.

Would this approach enable your organization to put together better ministry?

Christian Retreats Network /

Based at Lake Williamson / PO Box 620 / Carlinville, IL 62626