How to Attend an Event as an Event Planner

Last week my family attended a local baseball game. Around the third inning of the game, the large, digital screen started acting strangely. I was quick to comment on this event failure to my husband, and we discussed what might be done to fix it. That’s the event planner in me. Anytime I see something go wrong at an event I’m attending, I try to figure out a way to fix it, or at least think of what I would do if I was in the planner’s shoes.

It’s hard to turn off the “event planner” inside you when you attend a function you haven’t planned. However, especially when it comes to spiritual retreats and training events, it’s important to sometimes simply attend and enjoy, without the pressure of planning and executing.

If you are attending an event rather than planning it, keep these tips in mind:

  • You need spiritual refreshment. While it is possible to worship and be spiritually renewed during your planned events, it is hard. Something always interferes. The room is too cold. The speaker is running late. The video doesn’t play on cue. Someone is complaining about something. If you have the joy of attending an event as a guest, soak in the time you have without the added stress. Allow your spirit to be renewed.
  • Be reminded that mistakes will happen, but they are often unnoticed by most attendees. They happen with events you plan. They will happen with events you attend. As an attendee, realize mistakes happen, and see how, in the grand scheme of things, they are often not as big of a deal as you make them when you are the event planner. You will notice some of the smaller mistakes easily, but try to focus on the bigger picture, realizing most people don’t notice the small mistakes.
  • Take notes. It’s okay to “borrow” good ideas from other people. One great thing about attending events outside your own is for a different perspective. You have great ideas, but others do too. Learn from them. There may be ideas you can incorporate into future events.
  • Enjoy yourself! It’s okay to have fun at someone else’s event! Meet new people, experience new things, and be willing to let loose a little. After all, you aren’t in charge, and no one is looking to you for the answers.
  • Make connections. Introduce yourself to the event planner. Perhaps you can build a relationship where you trade event registrations in the future. For example, you could comp the registration fee for the event planner at one of your events in exchange for comped registration at one of their events.

Earlier this year I had the privilege of attending a writer’s conference as an attendee rather than a planner. It was an amazing feeling walking into the auditorium, realizing I had no responsibilities for the evening except to enjoy myself, worship, and learn. And, though it was hard to turn off the event planner mindset at first, I quickly became engrossed in the conference as a participant. And, it was a blessing!

Four Things to Consider When You Make a Mistake


If you watched The Academy Awards this year, in the midst of candy and donuts parachuting down to guests and a tour bus bringing unsuspecting sightseers right in front of the star-studded crowd, your viewing experience came to an abrupt halt as La La Land directors were interrupted during their acceptance speeches for “Best Picture.” The reason? They weren’t the actual winners. The wrong movie had been announced. It was a mistake of epic proportions, as the crew from La La Land handed over the award they mistakenly received to the actual winners.

Mistakes happen. They are inevitable. Some are, unfortunately, a bit more visible to the world, such as the Oscar mix-up. Other mistakes are ones that can easily be hidden. Regardless of the situation or the error, here are four takeaways from how the Oscars handled their embarrassing mistake:

  1. Own your mistake. As soon as you realize you have made an error, let others know. A natural response is to try to hide it. Don’t try to cover it up. This will only lead to greater problems down the road. The sooner you own your mistake, the quicker a correction can be made.
  2. Correct your mistake. After you confess your error, do what you can to make it right. While this initially may cause a bit of confusion or questioning, making the situation right is, for lack of a better phrase, the right thing to do.
  3. Investigate your mistake. There may be an explanation for the mistake that was made, one you might not immediately see. Social media was quick to blame the presenters for reading the wrong name at the Oscars when in actuality, they were given the wrong envelope. Make sure you know the entire story before placing blame on a particular person or side.
  4. Learn from your mistake. It goes without saying, when you make a mistake once, you should learn from that mistake and not make it again. After a mistake has been made and corrected, gather those involved and figure out the what, why and how of the error. Put parameters in place so it does not become a repeat situation.

While a simple check of an envelope could have spared many people a lot of unnecessary emotions at The Academy Awards, the fact is, a mistake was made. There are consequences for mistakes, but there are also great learning experiences that can come from them. Next time you make an error, whether in your personal or professional life, consider these four takeaways listed above. Your mistakes do not define you; your response to them will.


10 Leadership Blogs to Follow in 2017

In our last blog post, we explored several event planning websites to guide you in the latest tips and trends as you prepare for events of all sizes. Today, we will highlight ten leadership blogs to follow as you seek to become a more well-rounded leader. Whether you lead a large organization or a small group, plan events for thousands or a simple retreat for your church, or have an accomplished resume of leadership positions or are just getting your foot in the door, these blogs offer great insight into all facets of leadership.

  • Carey Nieuwhof: Carey Nieuwhof is a pastor, father, author and speaker who desires to “help people lead like never before.” Through his blog and podcasts, Carey shares both personal experiences (good and bad) and interviews leaders to gain their success strategies.
  • LifeWay Leadership: This site is full of articles for both church staff and lay people. There are also links to leadership events, podcasts and training resources. While you are here, you can also link to other LifeWay ministry sites including kids, students, women’s and group ministries.
  • Michael Hyatt: Michael Hyatt is the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He currently runs his own online training company. Here you can find articles and podcasts on topics such as leadership, personal development and productivity.
  • Eric Geiger: Eric Geiger leads the Church Resources division at LifeWay Christian Resources. In addition, he is an author and pastor. This blog contains great resources and practical tips for leaders of all levels.
  • Leadership Freak: Dan Rockwell writes a daily post on various leadership topics for seasoned and upcoming leaders.
  • Scotty Smith—The Gospel Coalition: Scotty Smith provides a daily Scripture reading and prayer based on that reading. This blog is a great devotional resource for leaders to prepare themselves each day.
  • Brad Lomenick: Brad Lomenick was (and still remains) influential in the Catalyst movement. His posts range on topics from leadership and the next generation to innovation and creativity, to name a few.
  • Scott Cochrane—A Leader’s Journey: Scott Cochrane is a leader in the Willow Creek Association, an organization with a vision to “help Christians grow their leadership to maximize Kingdom impact.” He writes about a wide assortment of leadership topics.
  • Thom Rainer: Thom Rainer is President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. His regular podcasts, Rainer on Leadership, offer great information on various leadership topics for the church and beyond.
  • Seth Godin: Seth Godin is an author and speaker with a knack for concise, witty posts that are both insightful and thought-provoking.

What about you? What leadership blogs do you follow? Comment in the section below.


7 Event Planning Websites to Follow

Harry Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Whether you are a seasoned event planner or simply plan an event here and there for your church or organization, there are many online resources you can utilize to enhance your event planning. As an event leader, it can be very beneficial to learn what others are doing that works (or doesn’t work), stay current with tips and trends and find encouragement from others in the industry.

Here are a few websites you can follow to learn more about event planning. Not all have a religious affiliation, but they offer many tips and ideas on creating an even bigger and better event.

  • Connect Association – This website offers “how-to” articles, leadership notes, videos, a blog, and galleries of photos from various events around the country.
  • Connect Faith – This website offers similar content as Connect Association. The main difference is Connect Faith writes from a religious perspective and highlights faith-based events.
  • Connect Corporate – This website is another one in the family of Connect Association tools, but it is designed more for the corporate meeting professional.
  • Planning Helper – This website offers free articles and information on event planning topics ranging from budgeting and site selection to registration and etiquette. It is a great site for new event planners and a great refresher for seasoned ones.
  • Event MB – The Event Manager Blog keeps you up-to-date on the latest trends in event planning and marketing. They release an annual report of “10 Event Trends” for the upcoming year.
  • Social Tables – Though Social Tables is known for event planning software, they also maintain a blog keeping you up-to-date on meeting and event trends.
  • Meetings Imagined – This site offers expert tips and trends for meetings and events. Their posts are quick to read and have great pictures.

Regardless of the purpose or size of your event, you can find tips and tricks to incorporate in your planning as you learn from others in the industry.

What event websites do you frequent? Share in the Comments Section below.



Merry Christmas

The Ministry Serving Ministry team would like to thank each of our readers for another year of learning, planning and dreaming with us on our blog. We pray God’s richest blessings on you as you celebrate the Christmas season. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of parties, parades and planning, take time to remember the true meaning of this wonderful holiday—the beautiful birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Here are some of our favorite Christmas quotes and Scriptures you can meditate on as you pause and reflect on the wonder of Christmas.

  • “He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed.” – St. Augustine
  •  “The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.” – J.I. Packer
  •  “Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.” – Luke 2:11
  •  “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” – C.S. Lewis
  •  “Our God is the God of the unexpected. Few things could be more unexpected than the King of heaven being born in a stable.” – Bill Crowder
  •  “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
  •  “The hinge of history is on the door of a Bethlehem stable.” – Ralph W. Sockman
  • “Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in Thee.” – Charles Wesley
  • “When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4-5
  • “Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” – C.S. Lewis

Merry Christmas from our team to yours! May God’s hope and peace bring you exceedingly great joy as you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. See you back here in 2017!


10 Proverbs for Event Planners

I recently read an article entitled “10 Proverbs for Leaders” by Eric Geiger.  In this article, Geiger highlights ten wise sayings that should impact the way leaders lead from the Book of Proverbs. He writes, “Because our faith should impact every aspect of our lives, including our leadership, we find great truth within the Scripture that should form how we live—including how leaders lead.”  As I read this article, my mind immediately paralleled this with verses specific to circumstances often faced by Christian event planners.  Because our faith should impact every aspect of our lives, including our event planning, we find great truth within the Scripture that should form how we live—including how event planners plan.

I hope you find these proverbs helpful as you go through the ins and outs of your event planning.

  • On being wise stewards:  Know well the condition of your flock, and pay attention to your herds, for wealth is not forever; not even a crown lasts for all time. – Proverbs 27:23-24
  •  On the dangers of comparison:  A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones. – Proverbs 14:30
  •  On the importance of integrity:  The one who lives with integrity will be helped, but one who distorts right and wrong will suddenly fall. – Proverbs 28:18
  • On exhibiting confidence:  For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from a snare. – Proverbs 3:26
  • On the pitfalls of pride:  When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom. – Proverbs 11:2
  • On encounters with unsatisfied attendees:  A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness. – Proverbs 14:29
  • On responding to criticism:  Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17 
  • On managing time:  The slacker craves, yet has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied. – Proverbs 13:4
  • On seeking God’s direction:  A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps. – Proverbs 16:9
  • On dealing with anxious thoughts:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5

Thanks to Eric Geiger for the inspiration/format idea behind this blog post.


Grace for the Moment


The sound system breaks.  The printer ink runs out.  The speaker’s flight is cancelled.  The catering is late.  The event programs are still in the home office.  The registration line is out the door.  The attendees are complaining about the temperature of the meeting room.  The bathrooms are backed up.  The event signage is portrait, and the sign holders are landscape.  The power goes out.  The battery light on your phone is red, and you can’t find the charger.

Have you ever experienced any of these event frustrations?  You’ve planned.  You’ve prepared.  You’ve organized.  Yet, there’s one thing that creeps up unexpectedly (or in many cases, lots of issues arise), and the way you react can have a domino effect over the course of your event.

Here are three things I have learned throughout my time as an event planner:

  1. Expect the unexpected.  When dealing with people, places and technology, there are so many things out of your control.  When unexpected issues arise (and they undoubtedly will), pause and think logically about how best to take your next steps.  Your team will follow how you react to the situation. If you are calm, cool and collected, your team will follow suit.  If you show a sense of frustration or panic, it’s likely your team will respond in the same way.  While you cannot predict the unexpected, you can expect it will happen.
  2. Don’t let a surprise ruin your event.  Embrace creative ways you can respond to the unplanned situation.  Once I was at an outdoor concert when the power went out.  What could have been a quick cancellation with angry concertgoers turned into a very personal, acoustic session with the band sitting on the edge of the stage that was unforgettable. See how you can turn the unexpected into something even better.  Like the concert I attended, it might just turn out to be one of the most memorable moments of your event.
  3. Pray for grace for the moment.  Perhaps the most important thing you can pray for yourself before an event is that you will have grace for each and every moment.  Pray you will react to every situation with grace and love, kindness and gentleness. Moments will undoubtedly come that test your patience – either with a guest, a team member or the event facility staff.  Pray others will see Christ through you in every encounter you have.

When it comes to event planning, you can’t control many outside circumstances.  However, you can control how you react to them.  By preparing yourself to expect the unexpected, embrace surprises and show grace in each moment, you will find the event much more enjoyable!

Weekend Spiritual Retreat Curriculum Ideas

One of the foundational elements in planning a weekend spiritual retreat is the curriculum you will study during large and small group times.  For many, this can seem like an overwhelming task.  Do you write it yourself?  Are there materials out there?  Where do you find them?  You may have the luxury of a skilled curriculum writer who can produce material for your retreat.  You may bring in a speaker who provides his/her own material for both large and small group times.  If you don’t have either of these, there are a number of pre-written curriculum studies you can purchase for your retreat.

I recently spoke with Aaron Wilson, LifeWay Retail Church Representative, based out of Charlotte, NC.  He offered great resource suggestions for a variety of retreats.

For General Spiritual Retreats:

  • Explore the Bible:  Studies for groups who want to focus on one particular book of the Bible and study verses in their full context.
  • The Gospel Project:  Studies for groups who want to examine how the story of Jesus and His gospel is woven into all of Scripture.
  • Bible Studies for Life:  Studies for groups who are curious about how Biblical truth intersects with everyday life.

For Women:

For Men:

  • 33 Series: DVD-based series designed to equip men to pursue authentic manhood as modeled by Jesus in the 33 years He lived on earth.  There are six studies within this series.

For Couples:

  • Fireproof Your Marriage:  Study builds off themes presented in the movie, Fireproof (a great movie to show at the beginning or end of the retreat!).
  • The Art of Marriage:  DVD-based study geared toward making your marriage a masterpiece.
  • The Five Love Languages Study:  Study based off the best selling book by the same title. This revised edition provides a short, 2-session setting for weekend retreats in addition to a longer session study.

Choosing a study for your retreat doesn’t have to be a daunting task.  There are many options available that can easily be altered to fit your retreat schedule and needs.  Many of these studies have online samples you can preview before purchasing.

A big thanks to Aaron Wilson for sharing such a wide range of Bible study options LifeWay Stores offer both in-store and online (


Hosting Your Speakers And Worship Leaders, Part Two

In our last post we discussed the importance of communication between the host group and conference speakers and worship leaders. Communication before, during and even after the event is vital.

In talking with a few worship leaders and speakers recently, they shared a few other important factors that make a better conference experience for them. Here are a few general suggestions:

  • “Make them feel at home. The road can be tiring. A nice green room can help the band relax. Ask them their favorite snack foods/drinks, and set up an atmosphere that is relaxing. A well-rested worship leader/band will be more focused to lead. Enlist those who have the gift of hospitality to serve in this area. – Chris, Worship Leader
  • “One thing that is nice as a speaker is to have a private place to stay. While it is nice to visit with folks, there is an unspoken expectation to visit for a long time when staying as a guest in someone’s home. This really applies when the event is more than just overnight.” – Sam, Conference Speaker
  • Great speakers/Great worship! If you have those two things people will come again for sure! – Gerald, Worship Leader

In addition, looking specifically at the technical side of the conference, here are a few tips from seasoned worship leaders:

  1. “Whether big or small events, I always send out a rider and stage plot for the band. Many times I’ve shown up to lead a weekend and the stage is nowhere near set the way I’ve planned. Either there aren’t enough microphones, monitor mixes, power supplies, etc. It’s not the best way to kick off the weekend when a simple phone call or email from those hosting could have been sent suggesting other ways to set things up or just saying ‘we can’t accommodate you in this certain way but here’s what we can do’.” – Jordon, Worship Leader
  2. “Have a knowledgeable production staff. First, it starts with making sure sound, lighting and video elements are the best you can provide. Spend the time and money in bringing in great production if your church or event venue is not equipped for a band. People are aware of band sound, and it can be a distraction to worship if not done right. The people running these elements should be knowledgeable of running sound for a band and desire to serve the band and Jesus through that position.” – Chris, Worship Leader

By hosting your platform guests well, you can give them a more relaxed environment, thus providing them more opportunities to interact with conference attendants, feel more confident on stage and possibly help them want to return for future events!

Hosting Your Speakers And Worship Leaders, Part One

You may have heard stories of celebrities with crazy requests when they come to a venue.  A bowl of M&M’s with all of the brown ones taken out.  Only white flowers in the hotel room.   A refrigerator in the dressing room with a glass door.  While these requests are on the extreme side, certain high-profile talent require things of this nature when they perform.

It’s highly doubtful you have had to deal with requests on this scale, but as an event planner, you should strive to host your speakers and worship leaders with excellence.  I recently spoke with various worship leaders and speakers and asked them to share three things a host (church, conference, organization, etc.) could do to make their experience the best possible one.  Their answers were surprisingly very similar.

The one thing each person I spoke with listed was good communication.  They offered great suggestions on what types of things they like to receive in advance.

  • “Communication prior to the event is huge.  I love being able to connect with the pastor/speaker beforehand.  This helps me form my worship sets and allows us to be on the same page walking into the event rather than scrambling to move pieces around last minute.  It’s also great to hear the vision of the event and what we’re trying to accomplish so I can begin to wrap my heart around it.” – Jarrod, worship leader
  • “A complete schedule of the event day(s) is very helpful, directions to the event venue, how long you want the music to be each service, a list of songs that your church is used to singing and may know…all are important.  In addition, take time to verify all hotels are paid for in advance, rental cars are paid for, etc.” – Chris, worship leader
  • “It is very helpful for me to plan my trip by knowing exactly when I need to be there and when the event is concluded.  It is also very helpful to know the subject matter pretty far out. If there is a general topic and you will allow me great freedom on what I will speak on that is good.  But, if someone wants to give more specific guidance (certain scripture passages, highlighting the theme, etc.) then communicate that as soon as possible.  If you have certain expectations for evangelistic appeal, then share that also.” – Sam, conference speaker
  • “Have clear, simple and easy communication available not only before the event but also during the event!” – Gerald, worship leader

It is evident excellent communication is a very important part of preparation for everyone involved with the event.  Stay tuned for part two of this discussion with worship leaders and speakers as they share other important things they desire from their conference hosts.