The best way to plan and lead your community is to think in months and then weeks. Planning week-to-week is too exhausting, especially for the busy leader. There is too much to think through and everything comes quickly in the normal rhythm of life. When leaders plan week-to-week their intentionality becomes nearly non-existent, and their organization tends to fall apart. The weeks become disconnected. The movement of the community towards something stalls.

It is better to do the bulk of the planning month-to-month. You can plan it all out with balance, then you can move forward preparing for each week. Planning monthly also gives the entire community a heads up, so they can plan their lives accordingly.

Free Download: Monthly Planning Template

Know the “Season” You’re In

The time of year, season of life, and all the factors affecting your city are affecting your community. Plan accordingly. For example, in the summer, everyone might be in and out while on vacation. However, during the summer there are greater opportunities to pursue relationships. Consider this in your planning. Or, are you approaching the holidays? How can your community grow in your love for one another through Thanksgiving and Christmas? How can you grow in loving God through Advent? How can you welcome others in and serve them during, what is for many, a difficult season.

In a similar way, consider the spiritual season your community is in. Are you deeply intrenched in caring for a burden of one of your members? Is there a growth towards prayer that is happening? How should your plan respond to that? Is there a resistance to repentance or dealing with sin? What is God calling your community to grow in?

Lead in Balance through Planning

Your community is seeking to grow in it’s love for God (gospel enjoyment), love for one another (community), and love for city (mission). This ought to be expressed through your monthly calendar.  The goal of planning monthly is to outline when and how will your community grow in each of these things. You simply can’t do all these things every time your community gets together. They all bleed into each other, but your community will have to focus on one each time. Create the overall monthly direction before breaking down each weekly meal time.

Share Leadership Easily

Meet with your co-leaders towards the end of each month to pray for your community, debrief the past month, and plan the upcoming month. As you do this, assign who will be responsible for what based on their leadership roles. For example, the missional leader will lead the missional times, and the shepherding leader will lead the shepherding gatherings. These meetings will be truly life-giving.

Seek Input From Coach

Ask your coach to help you plan each month in the beginning. As you get a feel for leadership, ask your coach to critique your plan. After you are confident, consider how you can help others begin and lead communities. This template can be a great format for coaching conversations.

Example of a Monthly Plan

Here is an example of a monthly plan with each week’s focus, activities, leaders, and the overall monthly prayer that the leaders share for this community. You can download a free template following this monthly planning format here.

Prayer for the month: See our complete need for the gospel as we seek to help those overwhelmed by the needs of others.

Week 1: Focus: Gospel Enjoyment/Community.

Meal where focus is confession and repentance (Jared leads). Later in the week have a ‘game-night’.

Week 2: Focus: Mission. Do a Babysitting night for foster families in your neighborhood (Stacey organizes). Encourage everyone to take a day of rest as individuals and families over the weekend.

Week 3: Focus: Gospel Enjoyment

Meal where focus is on studying scriptures (Jared Leads). Later in the week go to a happy hour in the neighborhood where you can invite friends and co-workers.

Week 4: Focus: Mission

Meet to put care packages together for case-workers and foster families and thank them for loving and caring for children (Caleb organizes). Later in the week, a few folks will deliver them

Brad A. Watson serves as a pastor of Bread&Wine Communities in Portland, Oregon where he develops, coaches, and trains leaders to form communities that love God and serve the city. Brad is passionate about helping people live lives that reflect their belief and hope in Jesus. He lives in southeast Portland with his wife and their three kids.