If you are involved in managing the calendar at your church, you understand there's a lot that can go into it. There needs to be a process for approval, a system to prevent double bookings, a method to stay organized and so much more.
Not to mention all of the logistical details such as setup and teardown, which tables and chairs are being used, and who is going to do what. Let's dive into a few tips and tricks you can implement today for managing your church's calendar.
Tip #1 - Approval Processes
Simply put, there are two major types of events in the church world. A "simple" event and a "detailed" event. Lots of churches are structured so that there is one gatekeeper of the church calendar who approves or rejects all events being submitted.
I think this approach is great for simple events, but what about those events that have childcare, audio and video, communications or advertising needs, and catering? Not only does this complicate the event logistically, but it would also likely require more than one person to facilitate the event's needs.
You will need to loop in your communications director, AV person, food services director, and somebody who can assist with childcare. So what's the best way to do this?
Most church calendar software providers we have seen have some sort of level for approval areas. If yours does not have this capability, I would highly recommend checking out eSPACE Event Scheduler.
An approval area is a specific area in which you designate to an individual or a group of people in which they are in charge of approving. A great example of this is something like mentioned above.
If I assign my childcare person the approval area of "Childcare Service", anytime the support service childcare is requested, my childcare person will be notified via email to approve or reject the request.
It is important to note that this does not approve or reject the event as a whole, but just the support service within that approval area. Approval areas can be broken down by support service, resources (like table or chair) or even by the rooms being used. You can learn more about how we do it in eSPACE by going here.
Tip #2 - Gathering Details Systematically
This may sound silly, but to book events like a well-oiled machine, you need to have a good system in place that all of your staff can understand. If they don't understand it or if it is difficult for them, it will create more work for you in the long run.
Do they email the details to you? Do they request the event details in paper form? We highly recommend having some sort of virtual event request form to avoid double-entry of the event details.
Event Request Form
The event request form you use should be easy to navigate and straightforward for anyone to understand. Here are some of the BASIC details I like to collect on my event request form:
- Event Name
- Start/End Day and Time
- Event Category
- Number of People
- Room and Resources
- Support Services Needed
That was easy right? Well, if you have booked events on the church calendar before, you know that it's not always that straightforward.
When should we (or facilities) set up and teardown the event? Who is responsible for what? If you book something like AV as a support service, isn't there more information you need? Where do the tables and chairs go? How exactly should they be set up?
If you notice the image above, the software being used has the ability to capture setup details, custom fields for certain rooms and support services, and even allocation of where everything needs to go.
Are you tracking these kinds of details? Is it easy for your team to use and understand?
Tip #3 - Avoiding Conflicts
This may be one of the most obvious and easiest issues to avoid. Have you ever had an event scheduled and went to set up and found somebody else using the room for their event? Not a great feeling.
There are some very easy ways to avoid double-booking rooms:
- Use Real-Time Conflict Detection. Most church calendar software providers today use some sort of conflict detection in real time to literally prevent double bookings in rooms. We also recommend that the software you use should prevents conflicts for resources and support services as well.
- Automated Reports. This may sound irrelevant, but automated reports can be very helpful to see everything going on. Sometimes it is not a direct room conflict, but an event that may effect part of the facilities usage indirectly effecting the room. We like to run automated reports to see new events for the week to maintain full visibility.
- Periodic Calendar Review. Many conflicts and booking mistakes can be avoided simply by reviewing the calendar at a set time week over week. The more visibility in the calendar we can create, the more likely we are able to prevent any scheduling conflicts. We also recommend having integrations with Google/Outlook calendars so multiple people can see the events on their personal calendars at any time.
In short, the best way to avoid conflicts is having software to detect them before they happen in addition to constant review of the calendar. It also may help to always have a backup room available in case of double-booked emergencies.
Tip #4 - Coordination With Facilities
The church's facilities team plays a large role when it comes to the execution of events. In most church calendars, there are a lot of important details missing to coordinate with facilities most effectively.
Let's say we have an event planned we are very excited about. It took us weeks of planning and the day of execution is finally here.
We triple-checked to ensure no other events are scheduled so that we avoid any sense of conflict. This is going to be great!
We walk into the room to set up early to find that the facilities team is performing maintenance. They are cleaning the carpets, mopping the floors in the hallway, and moving all of the furniture around. What do we do now?
Well, I hate to say it, but all of this could have been avoided with proper coordination with your facilities team. Without bragging on our own product too much, eSPACE is the only church calendar software that has the capability to view conflicts based on maintenance items.
By using this kind of feature, you can prevent any conflict between maintenance and events by creating closures on certain rooms or resources that work is being performed on. If you are not using eSPACE, you should always check with your facility director to ensure they have visibility to the calendar and are not stepping on any toes.
Tip #5 - Look At The Data
Not only is the execution of the event important with the logistical details, but let's start from the beginning. Which events should we continue to host at our facility? Which ones are successful and which ones are not?
Let's take a look at the data. Your church calendar provider should offer some sort of reporting and analytics, but below are some screenshots we provide our clients using eSPACE:
The image above is a GREAT place to start from a ministry point of view. What categories or ministries hosted the majority of our events last year? Are there certain groups that have a small slice that should be greater? Are there any large slices that should be smaller based on who we are?
What time of day is the best time to host events? In the example above we see historically, it is pretty packed from 8am-11am and 6-7pm. It is likely not a great idea to jam more events in these slots, but to use the 12 pm to 4 pm window since it looks like that time is underutilized within our facility.
Which events had the most people in attendance? In other words, what worked really well last year? How can we duplicate that success to our other events? How can we make them even better?
Last but not least, we always like to look at our key metrics. How many events did we host last year? How well did we utilize our facility? We like to see about an 80-85% space utilization at least. One of our friends, Luke Littrell at Fellowship Bible Church does a great job at monitoring this.
Conclusion To Managing The Church's Calendar
I would briefly like to piggyback off of the paragraph above. I believe space utilization is important for a few reasons:
- We don't know about you, but we pay for 100% of our building every year...Not just 50%. Utilizing the space as much as we can is being a good steward with that responsibility.
- I think of the story of the woman at the well with Jesus in John 4. (If you'd like a refresher of this story, click here). The woman wasn't at the well to meet Jesus...She was at a common place in the community to gather and Jesus met her there with his perfect timing. Sometimes the events we host at the church can serve as wells...How can we be a center of our community where people come and happen to meet Jesus?
We cannot forget our responsibility at the church for WHY we host events. Managing the calendar can feel daunting at times, but I hope that the information shared in this article will help.
If you are looking for a new church calendar program like eSPACE to help with intentional planning, I'd like to invite you to take a product tour with the button below. To your next event's success!