Inside West Ridge

8 Tips For Effective Series Planning

August 13, 2013

Getting a series from idea to execution is a process that many churches do 8-12 times a year. Isn’t this something we should get good at?

I’ve talked to very few communication leaders, creatives, worship leaders or pastors that are content with their effectiveness in series planning. Here are 8 practical tips to help change that.

#1 – Get in a rhythm


This is the funnel that guides our timing for series planning at West Ridge Church.

  • Starts with mapping out big picture teaching topics in a series calendar planning.
  • The series, teaching topics and key scriptures for each week are mapped out in a series overview document.
  • Creative Arts team meets to discuss the creative direction for the series and how we can bring the topic to life in our services.
  • Communications team brainstorms the visual direction and communication strategy
  • Each individual service is planned with songs, creative elements, worship elements and teaching.
  • We evaluate each service through the filter of: what worked, what didn’t work, what was missing, what was confusing.

The goal is to have an intentional process for each team to move from the big picture vision of the series all the way down to the plan for each individual service.

#2 – Block out meeting times on advance

If effective series planning is a value, block out meeting times in advance. A great time to do this is after a series calendar planning meeting. Once you have a rough shell of where each upcoming series will begin and end, use your planning funnel to schedule meetings. Planning ahead creates more margin for your teams to dream, create and do things with excellence.


#3 – Setup project milestones

While each teaching series may be different, many of the deliverables stay consistent – such as a teaching plan, worship sets, series graphics, promotion, and more. To keep everyone on track, setup project milestones along the way. You can see what these milestones look like for us at West Ridge here.

#4 – When the plan hits the fan, adjust expectations and communicate consistently

It’s bound to happen. Something is going to go wrong. Schedules are going to get crazy. Sometimes, the best intentions and awesome plan that you have just hits the fan. When that happens, take a moment to evaluate where you are in the process, adjust the expectations based off of what you can accomplish with the time and resources that you have, then communicate that with your team so that there are no surprises.

#5 – Add value to the process

Let’s face it, not every team member or pastor is wired as a planner. While some churches know what series they are doing a year from now, others aren’t sure what next week will look like yet. If you have someone on your team that doesn’t value planning ahead or isn’t engaged in the process, find ways to add value to the process. Take initiative and fill in the gaps. Be a part of the solution. If getting your team together to meet is the biggest barrier, be a part of the solution by coordinating the meetings.

#6 – Look for ways to integrate series with whole church

Some of the most effective series that we have done have been church-wide efforts. Take advantage of teaching topics that can work for adults/kids/students and make it a church-wide series. This gives families of the church an opportunity to discuss what they’re learning and grow together.

#7 – Have a plan, but don’t be afraid to deviate from it

The plan is there to serve you, not control you. It’s always easier to deviate from an existing plan than it is to make last minute changes without a plan.

#8 – Identify the problem you are going to solve

Before you start promoting the series, figure out what the problem is that you’re trying to solve for your audience. Answer the “so what?” question for the audience so you can identify why this matters to them. This brings clarity to how you can approach the series with your teaching, creative and communications.

QUESTION: What are some tips you’ve learned about effective series planning?