This past weekend, I led a family conference at my church, The Bridge Community Church of Northern Kentucky. It was really successful. It was successful in attendance, execution, and accomplishment of stated goals. We put on an in house conference which served 142 adults and 100 kids. We had 60+ volunteers and 15 speakers who made this night possible. All told, almost half of our Sunday morning attendance was on campus for this event.
That is amazing. And I am proud of my leadership team, those who stepped up to serve, and those came out on a rough winter night to grow as the primary faith influencer of their children.
A few days past this event I want to offer 6 quick tips for successful church events.
1. Over-communicate your goals to people at every level of involvement. Our speakers and volunteers repeatedly heard three simple goals we had set for every person who attended the conference. We even told the people attending the conference our goals for them as they attended the conference. Everyone knew what our goals were, and that made it possible for everyone to know when we had succeeded. Communicate your goals.
2. Your best leaders and helpers will be those who are already leading and helping. I tried to give our primary lay leaders a break in serving, but the unfortunate truth is that 20% of the people really do 80% of the work. When we had problems popping up from balls that had been dropped by leadership (me), they were immediately solved by those who are our most faithful leaders and helpers. The reason is simple: leaders lead and helpers help. People don’t serve in the church because they have been given a title for a position, they serve because they have been given a heart for service.
3. Know that great ideas without hard work are nothing more than missed opportunities. There is a tendency for young leaders (looking at myself here) to assume that great ideas naturally become great events, but we forget about the hard work that must happen somewhere in the middle. This is where you need to recognize and point out the incredible value of those who have a heart to serve. Because the church has adopted western business metrics for success, people with the gift of serving usually feel least gifted of all. But without people gifted to serve, every little task becomes a burden and every big task becomes a battlefield. The hard work of joyful servants will be the difference between a great idea and a great event.
4. Release your people to minister to your people. The most consistent feedback I have heard from our event was how encouraging it was for our people to see other lay people sharing from the main stage. We consciously decided not to bring in anyone from outside our church, hoping to encourage leadership from within our church, and it worked. We had a worship center full of believers ministering to other believers, and the impact was powerful. Our church went from ministers doing the work of the ministry to saints doing the work of the ministry, and we hope to never look back.
5. As the leader, be prepared to expose your weaknesses. The bigger your project, the more decisions you make. The more decisions you make, the more decisions you make poorly. The more decisions you make poorly, the bigger your failures seem. If you cannot handle that, you will have a hard time leading. In the past month I have seen all of my flaws on display for all to see, and it made me a bad leader. Thankfully, my wife reminded me that no matter how many mistakes I saw, we (as a church) experienced a major success. As the leader, I had to stop being selfish, and and celebrate the win with everyone else. And the truth is that most people got past my failures much faster than I did, so don’t be afraid to fail, I promise it makes you stronger.
6. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of God in your event. I cannot overstate how chaotic things were in the hour leading up to the start of the conference. It was crazy. It seemed like I had not just dropped balls, but drop kicked them as far as I possibly could. But with just 5 minutes before the host took the main stage, we gathered our team, prayed for God’s blessing, and released the rest of the night to Him. Amazingly, without a run through beforehand (because we were all too busy), our program went off without a single hiccup. There were no audio problems. No videos without sound. No missed transitions (even though we had 13 transitions on the main stage!). The whole event went out flawlessly. Now, I cannot guarantee that prayer will make your event flawless, but I can promise our event was only made possible through prayer! Lean on God, not your understanding.
All in all, I encourage you to try something big in your church.
I know that the young leaders in the church are currently reacting against the big event, seeker friendly, attractive church models which dominated the past quarter century of church in America – I am a ringleader in that parade within our own church. But I want you to consider the benefits of gathering together around a well-programmed event that gives honor to God and points His people to His glory.