Check out this post to see how you can plan an entire year of women’s ministry events with a planning party and not a meeting!

Save yourself some time and stress by planning a full year of women’s ministry events in one day. You’ll feel better about your year, create some great momentum, and get other women in your church excited for things to come.

And best yet, you don’t have to do it alone. We’ve helped hundreds of women’s ministries get started in a new direction by following our Planning Party strategy!

We know it’s not the norm to have FUN planning or to do it with a larger number of people involved, but that’s part of the reason it works so well! It’s not your typical “meeting” where a bunch gets said but nothing changes.

Plan an entire year of women’s ministry events in one night

There is a better way to plan for your ministry. Can you imagine planning an entire year of events that women actually want to come to? And having these events on the calendar in just a couple hours? Follow our model to turn a frustrating planning meeting into the most productive Planning Party you’ve ever seen. Your team will thank you for this! (And if you’re like, “Team? What team?” … This strategy is still for you! We have heard from so many women who’ve gone from a team of 1 to a team of many just by inviting others to join in the party!)

  • Plan a full year of monthly events with extra great ideas to last for years to come
  • Inspire & recruit more team members, volunteers, and helpers
  • Fill your calendar with events that more women are excited to attend
  • Choose dates & times that work better for more women
  • Turn church acquaintances into friendships

“Planning for the year makes it easier to involve other people, strengthens your credibility as a leader, and minimizes stress.”  

Laurie Acker

You can totally do this!!  Follow our Step-by-Step for an amazing and productive night.

Planning for the year gives you momentum

Do you have any of these challenges in your women’s ministry?

  • little to no money in the budget
  • lack of people to lead
  • some think events are too fluffy and fun
  • some feel events are too serious and spiritual
  • women say they want a women’s ministry but then don’t come

Here’s the reality … women have needs. We all need community. We all want to grow. Want to be loved. We want to know God is real. We were created to build each other up, train up those who are younger, support each other, and do life together.

Involving others in the planning and planning for a full year have so many benefits!

  • It builds momentum as women are excited for what’s coming up next
  • Women have more ownership of the ideas, because they helped plan them
  • A wider variety of needs are met because more are part of the process
  • Your ministry has more focus and direction

Why it’s a Planning Party Instead of A Meeting

We call it a Planning Party because it is NOT just another meeting! What goes through your mind when you think about attending a meeting? (b-o-o-o-o-r-i-n-g!) 

A party, on the other hand, has elements of food, fun, and friends! This isn’t just an ordinary meeting to look at a calendar and put some events on it that may or may not end up happening.

This Planning Party Is designed to:

  • Get everyone involved. We need to stop ministering TO people, and minister WITH people. The more people are involved in the decisions and the planning, the more excited they are to be part of it.
  • Reinforce your ministry’s vision. You’ll take time at the beginning to share the big vision of what you’re about and what needs your church is called to meet! Before you share ideas, you’ll be laying out the direction! Then the ideas aren’t random at all.
  • Create deeper community. There’s little that bonds people together more than working for a common goal. Women getting around an idea together are a force of beauty!
  • Expand your team and add more volunteers. We’ve seen this happen over and over! As you ask people to be part of the planning, many get excited and WANT to be part of making it happen!
  • Plan events that people show up for. Because you’re planning together, and people have their calendars, the dates you choose will be better dates for your core people. You’ll have less rescheduling nightmares and canceled events.
  • Choose better events. WIth a bunch of brains involved, the ideas and options for events becomes a long, fun, creative list. You may be surprised at the great ideas you never would have thought of on your own.
  • Encourage your current volunteers. Whether you’re the only volunteer or you have a few faithful team members, getting a few more people surrounding you is a boost of energy and lets you know that others really DO care. 

Your greatest planning party

A great planning party can be done in one evening session, a Saturday morning, or a Sunday after church. It is purposefully planned and designed to create momentum and great follow-through. At the end of your party, you will have events on the calendar, a contact person for each event, and hopefully a partner for each of those events too.

6 Steps To A Successful Planning Party

1. Choose the Best Time & Date for the Planning Party

Check with team members (if you have any!) and other key women before you set the date. Do not choose the date on your own! To be effective, you want to involve them from the start – and it starts with the best date. Choose a date when as many of them can come as possible. 

2. Choose the Party Leader or Emcee

While this might be you, it doesn’t have to be. The Party Leader must be someone who is positive and energetic. This person could be a woman in your church who is a great facilitator but hasn’t been a key part of your ministry. And that’s okay! She needs to be able to follow the agenda, keep everyone on task and on time, and be great at getting others to talk and share. Planning Parties are fast-paced, fun, and also super productive. 

3. Evaluate Last Year Before the Planning Party

Before you have your party, choose a time for you and a partner or your ministry team to get together and review and evaluate the past year. Talk about the events that happened and those that were canceled. What was the purpose of each event? Did you fulfill the purpose? How did the event foster new friendships? Did the events lead to another?

4. How to Promote Your Planning Party

For this to be a success, you must promote the Planning Party as a PARTY – fun and exciting! Secondly, let your women know you want to hear their ideas. You aren’t telling them what your ministry is doing. Instead, they are helping decide what their Women’s Ministry will do in the upcoming year. 

Invite all the women in your church to join in the party, not just your current team or core members. The more input you have, the better your results. Remember – not every event you have will be everyone’s “cup of tea.” You want to hear what your women have to say; it will help guide the events you do and you’ll also have an opportunity to share the bigger purpose of events.

For the best tips on promoting events, check out:

When sharing about this event, remember this is a new thing.  They’ve probably never been to a party like this before. Be sure to promote this as a time for them to share their input and that you want to hear from them. A quick reminder text might say this: “A Quick Reminder – our Planning Party is tomorrow night at 6 pm – I’m so excited to hear new ideas!”

5. Set up your Party Room

Think about these things ahead of time. I encourage you to keep it simple. You don’t need to decorate or serve a meal, although a few easy snacks are usually appreciated. Stay focused on the purpose of your planning party! Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Music
  • Food & Drinks
  • Tables for 4-6 people each … Depending on the size of your group, you will sit at table groups of 4-6 people per table. Each table will need someone happy to facilitate and keep the group on task. This person helps keep everything positive and everyone included.
  • Post-it notes (1 pad per person, distributed by each seat)
  • Colored pens (on each table)
  • 8 1/2 x 11 signs: Simply Fun Events, Building Friendship & Creating Community,  Spiritual Growth & Discipleship, Service & Outreach Ideas (and any other categories you might want).  Post these signs on a wall in your room.
  • Timer
  • A large desk calendar, (ahead of time, pre-mark your calendar with any standing church events, school breaks, known community events, and holidays.)
  • Copies of any mission or purpose statements, core beliefs, and goals in your women’s ministry.
  • Printout of the Ministry Funnel for each person (fill out the information below to get the PDF) 
  • Small stickers (20 per person). Try colored dots, ladybugs, or smiley faces

** Prepare well, and ahead of time so you (& your team if you have one!) can greet, welcome, and pour drinks as women arrive.

6. Be Intentional

Follow your agenda with its timed segments. For best results, stick to the agenda and keep it moving.

If side conversations start or rabbit trails develop, save them for another time. To do this gracefully, write them on a “later conversation” list so women know you value their thoughts and will return at a future date. 

For your party to be a success though, you have to stay on track and follow the agenda so you’ll be able to end your party calendar of events for the year.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Ministry Funnel, please check it out here: The Ministry Funnel for Effective Small Church Ministry. You’ll give an overview of the Ministry Funnel as part of the Party Agenda. 

It’s easy to plan events around certain areas of the funnel and never invite women to grow deeper with Jesus or deeper in relationship. Keeping the Ministry Funnel in mind helps us model our ministry after Jesus, who spent time with people with different needs and spiritual maturity. 

While events are important, they aren’t an end in themselves. They are a means to build relationships and invite people deeper with each other and with God.   

Sample Women’s Ministry Planning Party Agenda

Here is a sample agenda for a 90-minute planning party. The main point is to keep it moving, have fun, and keep your goals in mind. Lead it fun and fast. Your goal isn’t to talk about every idea or do detailed planning. Your goal is to get lots of input and end the meeting with 12 great monthly events on the calendar, with a point person (or a team) as the contact person for each event.

Welcome and Introductions (10 minutes)

Keep it fun and happy. Play the candy mixer.

Vision and Goals (5 – 10 minutes)

  • Your goal is to walk out of here with an entire year of core events on the calendar.
  • To do that you will be brainstorming for a crazy amount of ideas.
  • Then the group will narrow down the ideas, choosing 12 events (1 per month).
  • And 1-2 Volunteers will sign up as Point Persons for each event.

Share the vision and mission of your women’s ministry.  What do you want to see happen at these events?  

Review Ministry Funnel, Core Values, and your Women’s Ministry Mission statement (if you have one) before putting events on the calendar.   

Use the Ministry Funnel in your yearly planning to help guide your choices, placing the right events in the right order to meet real needs. Instead of just filling a calendar, create opportunities for women to grow deeper with each other and with God.

Individual Brainstorming Session (7 minutes)

Give the following instructions:

  • Each person grabs a pad of post-it notes and a pen
  • When the timer starts you’ll each have 7 minutes to write as many ideas as you can for women’s events. Write one idea per post-it note. We’re gonna start totally on our own first, no talking. 
  • The goal is to come up with as many ideas as we can. Don’t think about logistics, the money, or planning. Don’t even worry if it’s a good event … we want as many ideas as possible.
  • The ideas can be fun events, spiritual events, service projects, parties, holiday events, inside or outside, community events, outreach, events that develop friendships or community, etc.
  • Be Specific.  Don’t just write a craft night – write WHAT craft you want to do.  Don’t just write a day trip – Write WHERE you want to go for that day trip.
  • After you write an idea, pull the post-it off the pad and stick it in the center of the table.
  • I’m setting a timer for 7 minutes.  Ready – Set – Go!  (Start your timer.)

While people are writing, the Party Leader should walk around encouraging everyone.  “Great idea! Keep going! Can you think of just one more idea?! No talking.”

Your goal is to keep the energy positive. If someone is told even one time that their idea is a bad idea, you have lost. They will stop sharing, and they will leave defeated. So if you hear negativity, turn it around quickly! Remind the group of the rules: tons of ideas, anything goes!

Your 7-minute timer is a suggestion to start. If your women start slowing down, make it shorter. If everyone is super engaged, add another minute.

Table Group Ideas (5 – 7 minutes)

If you have enough people for multiple tables, each table works on the ideas from their own table. Group similar ideas together.  (All Christmas Party post-it notes can go in one pile, craft ideas in another, Bible Study ideas in yet another, etc.)  Don’t talk about planning these ideas yet, and don’t evaluate good or bad. – the purpose of these 5 minutes is to combine duplicate ideas into the same piles.

Table Sharing with Large Group (5 – 10 minutes)

If you have multiple table groups, each table should choose a person to read each and all of their ideas to the entire Planning Party.  

Be sure to applaud when each table has finished reading all of their ideas. Enjoy this moment with smiles and laughter for all the ideas.  (Don’t evaluate – just share the brainstorming ideas.)

Organize in Categories (10 minutes)

Have everyone come up to the wall where you hung the category signs. Each post-it needs to fit in a category. They won’t all feel ideal. Have people choose the best fit. As they go into categories, you may want to start sub-groups (like sports events, outdoor events, events with food, travel locations)  – the more you can group things together, the better!

Keep accepting and celebrating ideas. 

As you sort ideas, keep the party positive, accepting, and exciting! All ideas are good!  (Although many may not be for this coming year, they are good ideas!)

Choose Top Events (Sticker time!) (10 minutes)

  • This is where you get to see where the energy is. If you have 100s of ideas (which you should)… give each person 20 stickers. You will want to be able to see at a glance which ideas have energy around them.
  • Tell everyone they get to “vote” for their top ideas. We won’t be picking 20 of course, but you want them to vote for 20.
  • Allow women to place up to 3 stickers on the same event. So, if they really want a “Candle Making Party” they can put 3 of their stickers on that one.
  • Feel free to “mandate” choices in specific categories. If service projects in your community are one of your women’s ministry core beliefs, you can totally require everyone to choose at least one favorite community service project.

Idea Wrap-Up (5 minutes)

Share your final thoughts on the ideas

  • This group is awesome! We have some great ideas!
  • We can’t do them all, but will do some!

Fill the Calendar (20 minutes)

In this section, your goal is to choose 12 Women’s Events & getting them on the calendar.

  • Work together to choose CORE events. Be careful not to overschedule.
  • Pay attention to what got the most stickers, but also to the Ministry Funnel and where you want to create opportunities for growing deeper. 
  • Choose specific dates and make sure people are on board. Consider the funnel. Think about the costs. Consider the planning and prep needed.
  • Whittle those events down to 12 and start sticking them on the calendar on the wall.
  • Play around with the post-its until you have logical dates, at least one volunteer willing to be the contact/organizer, and one event per month.
  • If you have a great event and no one is willing to take the lead, table it for the future.

Have someone compile all your post-it ideas (even the ones you did not choose) into one long computer document for future reference.

Closing Highlights (5 Minutes)

Take just a few minutes and ask every woman who came to share just one thing that they enjoyed about this planning party, one thing they got out of it, or one thing that encouraged them. Close in prayer.

After the Planning Party

Before You Publicize Your Calendar, Sare it with These People

  • Pastor and/or church board – Ask for their wisdom, advice, and support. Remember, you are part of a larger ministry. Cast vision where you can, submit where you need to, and work as you are part of the greater body.
  • Your Ministry Team – Hopefully your ministry team was part of the planning and if you didn’t have a team, you may have one now! If any ministry team members were not at the party, share your ideas and plan. They may catch conflicts you missed and have great ideas to add.
  • Key Families – In small churches, it often only takes one family on vacation to impact the success of an event. Share dates and plans with those families you are counting on if they weren’t represented at the party. Make sure to include your own family too! Make calendar adjustments if needed.
  • Other Staff Members & Ministry Leaders – Planning a year calendar is not about staking a claim to your dates. Looping in other staff members and ministry leaders shows that you value them and support their ministry areas too. You also benefit from their wisdom, input, and support.

Once you’ve looped in all those people, you are ready to publicize your yearly calendar and put it into action.

Create a Ministry You Love

Planning your ministry one full year in advance, at least with core monthly events, saves time, energy, and frustration. 

  • You can look further ahead to loop in more volunteers
  • You have plans in place for future invites from one event to the next
  • People can save the dates ahead of time so you have fewer canceled event
  • People will be grateful for your organization, forethought, and leadership

If you like this Planning Party, you’ll love The Small Church Academy, where we take ideas like this and work through specific solutions to your unique challenges! Academy members benefit from a members-only community, advice & consultation to go to the next level, plus a leadership course that helps you develop the foundation and skills you need for consistent success in your small church.

Check it out here: The Small Church Academy