After a summer sprint packed with mission trips, VBS, and camp outings, another busy school year will soon begin with its marathon programs.

Now is the perfect time to reflect on last year’s programs and honestly evaluate how you can make things even better this coming year. You might face some resistance from the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” naysayers, but it’s important to stay current and hit the reset button for any programs that didn’t quite hit the target.

Some things are always on the to-do list as you kick off a new year of programs—curriculum requirements, room designations, equipment needs. But don’t forget these important parts of fall program planning for your church:

1. Small Groups

Fall program planning typically leads to great ministries for children and youth. But what about the rest of your church community? Oftentimes a major portion of the church—anyone out of high school—is neglected. They are the ones mentoring the younger generations, so don’t forget that they need to be spiritually fed as well.

Small groups are one of the best ways to get a large percentage of your people involved and connected. Rather than a one-size-fits-all class, make it easy for your church community to connect with those who are at the same stage of life or facing similar challenges. Allow them to search for the right small group on your website based on a variety of criteria and see which ones meet close by using mapping tools. Give them several opportunities to connect through your church’s mobile app or on a kiosk in your foyer.

Group leaders can share information like meeting details or links to study materials on your church website, and even track attendance online that updates an integrated database. Church staff can use this information to gauge and encourage the discipleship and spiritual growth of your people.

2. Sign-up and check-in

woman looking up to multimedia iconSign up lists and registration cards can make planning for fall programming even more complicated. Streamline the process with electronic sign-up. Make it easy for participants to register for the next event and for volunteers to find the right service opportunities this fall online, through your mobile app, or on a kiosk.

Do you have a good system for keeping track of who then shows up for those programs? Utilize check-in kiosks to simplify the process. Attendees and volunteers can choose from a variety of secure access methods including fingerprint, barcode, and pin number. They can even print name tags or security receipts for parents dropping off their children.
With several programs beginning this fall, take advantage of the opportunity to integrate your solutions to minimize the paper trail and keep your staff organized.

3. Ministry Funds

While many ministries hold fundraisers to help defer some of the costs of their activities, the financial support of the church community is what truly provides the resources that make these programs possible. Have you made it easy for your people to give and support these vital ministries?

  • Online
    Donors who give online can pay with a debit or credit card or through a bank account—and set up recurring giving.
  • Mobile
    Allow your church community to give to the fund of their choice through your church’s mobile app.
  • Kiosk
    Touchscreen kiosks make it easy for anyone to give using a credit or debit card—even if they haven’t set up an account with your church.

Share the cost of these programs and how they affect the budget with your church community. Break down the numbers. Tell them what it takes to run a kid’s ministry. And ask them to prayerfully consider supporting the programs that will shape their children’s lives.

Make sure the ministry details that may have been neglected in previous years are not forgotten this fall by setting measurable goals in each of these areas. For example:

  • Certain number of small groups or a percentage of members participating
  • Attendance level in various ministries as well as number of volunteers
  • Budget goals for your different programs

Churches of any size can incorporate these strategies to lead to a successful year of ministry programs. Why not get started now?