The end of the year is a busy time in the church. On one hand, it’s a few weeks that hold fun, tradition, and time for community. But on the other hand, the expectations placed on church leaders can turn the holly jolly holidays into a series of exhausting events that leave you burnt out at the start of a new year.
As you prepare for this busy season, here are 7 ideas to help you plan for the new year while protecting the joy of the holiday season.
1. Celebrate the Good
If you never stop to celebrate, you run the risk of burnout—for both you and your ministry team. Celebrating your ministry’s wins helps boost energy and morale and inspires your team to continue moving forward.
DawnCheré Wilkerson, the Lead Pastor at Vous Church, believes that celebrating is especially important during times of trial. During her Church Disrupt address, she said, “It’s in moments when you’re in the crossroads; it’s in moments when you’re in crisis, it’s moments of confusion, that friend, you need celebration the very most.” She continues, “It even builds upon itself, as Wilkerson underscores, “And the beautiful thing about celebration is that, as you choose to celebrate your joy, it multiplies, and it spreads like a tidal wave to those that are around you.”
For VOUS Church, there are endless reasons for celebration. Wilkerson adds, “Some people only celebrate the beginning of things, but in VOUS Church, we’ve come to the realization that we don’t just want to celebrate when someone joins a team and then throw them a going-away party when they leave and move away.” But what about the people who stay, and are dedicated to the mission? Wilkerson explains that their “staying parties” are a celebration of people staying committed. “And the more we celebrate them, the more strength it builds within our community.
So even though your role is helping others celebrate Christmas, it shouldn’t keep you from having a sense of celebration yourself. As the year winds down, celebrate the ways God moved in your community over the last 365 days. From baptisms to weddings to birthdays, there was growth in your congregation and community this past year. Whether it was one person or 1,000 people, your church made an impact. Take a minute to celebrate.
You can share the good news in a staff retreat, during a Sunday service, or communicate the good news through your church’s social media.
2. Assess Your Tech and Tools
After you’ve celebrated the wins in your ministry, it’s time to take a look at what’s serving you and what’s not. As your church grows each year, you’ll need the right tech tools to help you manage your teams, finances, and service.
Church tech is constantly evolving, potentially solving issues that have given you headaches for years. The only way to know is to regularly assess your tech to make sure you have the latest tools and best partner to empower your ministry, serve your community, and achieve your goals.
Start by asking your team:
- What are your goals as a church in the next 2 years?
- What isn’t working right now—workflows, administrative tasks, processes?
- What workflows, technology solutions, and staff responsibilities are working really well? How can you build on those strengths?
- What do you need or wish you had to improve your ministry and further extend your impact?
These questions will give you a clearer picture of how your church is really doing and point you toward your next steps for continued ministry health and growth.
Write each of your current tech tools down next to the goals you have for the next few years. Now gauge how well each tool is helping you reach each goal. Be honest in this assessment—you could break it down with in-depth descriptions, come up with a points scale, or simply use color codes. The important thing is that you spot the patterns. You’ll quickly recognize which tools are supporting your goals, and where you might have room for improvement.
3. Revisit Your Mission
When someone asks, “What’s your church about?”, what’s your answer?
In the busyness of the year, there are needs to meet, sermons to preach, supplies to buy, problems to solve, and people to disciple. It may feel like there isn’t any time to actually think about the big picture or why your ministry exists. As a new year—and all the new year’s resolutions— approaches, it’s the perfect time to check in on your mission statement.
So what makes a good mission statement? The best mission statements are simple, concise, and easy to remember. Start by reviewing where you’ve been. Then describe what the church needs to do to increase engagement and make disciples. Tighten up the language as much as you can, and work with your leadership team to make sure everyone’s on board.
With our free ebook, Vision, Mission, & Purpose, you can get a road map to further define your mission and plot a path to reach your goals.
Your mission will provide direction and a goal for the next year (or the next few years). It’s a tool to help you stay focused. So with a clarified mission, you’ll be able to easily say yes to the things that will help you achieve your ministry goals, and no to the things that won’t. Ultimately, you’ll use your mission to evaluate your events, your time, and your programs so that you stay focused on what’s most important.
During the holiday season, it’s common for ministry leaders to ignore their own needs and instead focus on helping others celebrate the season. But one of the major consequences of over-programming and neglecting your own needs during the Christmas season is burnout.
You might already be thinking, “My church needs me this season, so I’m just going to get through it, and I’ll rest later.” The problem is that kind of thinking keeps going. You might tell yourself you’ll take a break in January. But before you know it, it’s Easter, and you still haven’t had a chance to rest and recover from Christmas.
Don’t start the new year burned out and exhausted from Christmas. It’s crucial to take time to rest and recover. Author Jefferson Bethke wrote, “Only when we truly know rest and celebration can we know how to work and enjoy it. We work from rest, not to get rest.”
Rest looks different for each person. If you’re a morning person, you could spend extra quiet time early in the morning to quietly reflect, worship God, read the Word, and pray. Another option for rest could be taking time away to travel with loved ones. Whether you take a day or a few hours, if you feel like you can’t spare a whole day, what matters is that you unplug from ministry and rest. Put your email on auto-responder. Turn your phone off, or at least turn off notifications.
5. Cut Back
In a season of excitement, big events, and anticipation for the new year, it’s easy to overcommit or make too many plans. As a church, the key to success may not be starting something new. It could be stopping something instead.
Our challenge to you as you look toward the new year is to cut back intentionally. Before you start panicking at the thought of canceling events, take a minute and think back to your updated mission statement from #3. If you only had a few big goals for your ministry, and they aligned with your mission, you could exclusively focus on them. Instead of being pulled in a million different directions and trying to spread your resource across a range of events, ministries, and activities, you could focus on completing those few goals with excellence.
While hosting events and creating new ministries have many benefits, they can also be costly—on your time, workload, and finances. If you take the time to intentionally cut back on the upcoming year, you’ll save your team from stress and burnout. The process will also help you stay aligned with your vision and stay on track all year long.
6. Create a Budget for the New Year
While the Bible doesn’t explicitly say, “Thou shalt budget,” it does encourage us to create one. Proverbs 27:23 reminds us, “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks; give careful attention to your herds.” Your budget will give you insight into the condition of your church as a whole.
The money coming into your church is given by faithful people who want to serve God. They trust you to invest it and use their gift to expand his Kingdom. No pressure. That’s why you need an annual budget. It’s the financial roadmap for your ministry, covering all the expenses your church accrues, from staff salaries to snacks for your kid’s ministry.
As you build your annual budget, you’ll want to underestimate your income, overestimate your expenses, and anticipate seasonal changes. For instance, if you know that your church will receive more money in December, but less income during the summer slump, plan for that in your budget. Set money aside during the high-income months so you’re prepared for the low-income seasons.
And despite all your planning, you’ll want to include an emergency fund in your budget. Heaters break. Roofs leak. Regular givers lose their jobs or move away. But if you make room for the unexpected in your budget, these surprises won’t shake your ministry.
7. Set Goals for the Year
With a new year comes New Year’s resolutions and goals for your church. Goals are meaningful. They reflect what’s important to us. Your goals for the new year can inspire, challenge and guide you.
Setting the right goals gives you and your team the direction you need for the year. With your team helping you brainstorm, you can set church-wide goals for attendance, giving, and discipleship.
Setting goals for the new year requires insight, reflection, and being smart throughout the process. And by smart, we mean SMART:
But the work doesn’t end after setting the goals—accountability matters. So as you create your SMART goals, put time on your calendar that aligns with the “T” of your goal to check in on the progress. With a plan in place and team check-ins to stay motivated, you’ll push your ministry to achieve your goals.
Helping You Thrive in 2023
After an amazing and exhausting year of ministry, we want to help you make next year your best year yet. As you prepare to lead your ministry into 2023 and beyond, we’d love to support you in reaching your goals. Schedule a demo today and talk with one of our specialists to see how we can help your church work more efficiently to achieve your goals for next year.
Remember to take the time you need and give yourself grace when things are rough. And keep going because the work you’re doing is impacting lives. 2022 was just the start, and we’re so excited to see you continue growing and thriving in 2023!