When planning events, our goal is to create event experiences that are A) honoring to God, B) family friendly, C) purposeful, and D) consistent with the GCA mission and brand. We plan out of a heart of love, not out of a heart of fear or control. We want to create experiences that are truly loving and helpful for our families and students, and in order to eliminate stress and set realistic expectations, we have to have a plan.
When planning an event, please consider following this planning process. While this process is not exhaustive, it should provide a helpful framework for the way you think about your event.
Step 1: Concept and create timeline
The first step is to think of the event concept. To help, you should always be able to answer the following questions:
- What is the purpose of this event? Why do we want to do it?
- What is the overall goal of this event? What do we hope to accomplish?
- What are our minor goals for this event? What do we want to happen?
- What are our resources for this event? Time, people, and financial.
If you do not have 2 weeks available to plan and finalize details before the event, it may be wise to cancel the event. Use discernment in this area.
Once you have created an outline of the event, starting with the purpose, and ending in the specific details of the event, list out all the steps that need to be taken in order to make the event happen.
Once you've created the list, assign dates to each one of those tasks. This will be your event planning timeline!
Step 2: Create the Plan
Look at your action items and your timeline. From these items, you'll need to create a plan to accomplish each of those items (and any new ones that may be added along the way). Assign 1 person who is responsible for each item and give them a date that the task must be completed. Do this for every action item, and this will give you an action plan.
As you created your plan, be sure to think through different obstacles that might occur. Do your best to think through the viewpoint of the event attendee, and try to meet their needs/desires.
Step 3: Delegate or Execute
After you have your plan ironed out, start executing the things on your plan. Or delegate the tasks to people who may be able to take them on in your stead.
Step 4: Meet regularly for status checks
Depending on the scope of the event, you may need to meet regularly for status checks. If possible, try to meet once per week for 30-45 minutes. Have an agenda prepared before the meeting so the status meeting will be quick and efficient. Discuss only what needs to be discussed during that meeting, and finish the meeting with clear assignments and expectations.
Step 5: Review and adjust (if necessary)
Plans are living documents. It's wise to plan in pencil, and allow God to have the eraser. While we want to glorify Him through our ambitions, we frequently need to humble ourselves to see that His ways are higher than our ways. Always seek His plan, and His will for your plans.
If you notice that you need to adjust a part of your plan, adjust it. It's okay to admit that you made a mistake, or that a decision was wrong. It's better to change a plan early, than to regret making a big event mistake. With that being said, do your best to be decisive. Once you've made a decision, don't feel the need to change it every time someone offers a differing opinion. If you're the event planner then you've been given the authority to plan the event. Make the best choice you can in the moment, and trust God with the results.
To ensure that we are instituting a culture of planning, we want to plan for our events far in advance. When possible, please adhere to the following planning guidelines.
Event Concept/Timeline/Overview is due 4 weeks prior to the event date. Review it with a leader or with your team for missed opportunities or concerns.
Event plan is due no later than 2 weeks prior to the event date. Review it with a leader or with your team to prepare for execution.
Execute all the event planning details no later than 7 days prior to the event date. All the planning and details should be completed 7 days before the event. The more that we can get accomplished before the event, the more you can rest as the event approaches.
Execute the event on the day of the event.