Scheduling mistakes to avoid this holiday season

When most people think of the holiday season, they envision presents, snowy nights, and maybe a song or two. But for ministry schedulers, the holiday season can bring up thoughts of the most complex and frantic time period you’ll have to overcome when it comes to building a ministry schedule. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! Let’s take a look at some common scheduling mistakes, and how you can avoid them.

Mistake 1: Not gathering updated preferences and availability specifically for the holiday season.

It’s inevitable that volunteers are going to be busier in the month of December, especially now that people are traveling again. Some may be less willing or able to serve because of that, while others may be more willing because they did not participate last year. The solution - don’t procrastinate! While it might be too early to set up your Christmas tree, it’s never too early to reach out to your volunteers to begin planning your schedule. With software like Ministry Scheduler Pro, your volunteers can update their service preferences and add availability for special service right in their own profile. You should also meet with your Pastor in advance to find out who they have in mind or have already talked to about serving for holiday services. Then, you can schedule those volunteers in advance and have a better perspective of how much help you still need.

Mistake 2: Spending too much time communicating the same details to your volunteers over and over again.

You have a lot of information to share with your volunteers, and likely email everyone asking for sign ups for Christmas, a reminder, a second reminder, and then updates when you have to make a change to one of the service times. These emails can pile up! When you repeat the same information over and over again, you may actually be training volunteers to gloss over the information completely, so when a message that specifically pertains to them comes in, they might not even notice! Leverage strong communication tools like or the Ministry Scheduler Pro Announcements pane that let you send targeted messages in a snap, rather than contacting the entire group for every little thing. You can also personalize your messages with tokens - drop in information like the Special Services Live Schedule Post to make online sign ups easy for your volunteers, or a list of remaining open positions to direct volunteers to where help is needed the most. Volunteers will be much less likely to tune out your messages when you send them only what they need to hear.

Mistake 3: Assuming everything will go according to plan.

If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it's that we need to be ready for the unexpected. While the essence of scheduling is to have a plan - knowing the number of volunteers you need, building a schedule, and communicating it to your volunteers - you still need to be ready to roll with the punches. Even once you think your schedule is done, changes may roll in, or service requirements may change at the last minute (i.e. you end up needing more or fewer volunteers in specific roles). By making yourself a Web Admin or Leader in Ministry Scheduler Pro, you can access your schedules from any laptop, tablet or phone, make changes on the fly, and communicate accordingly. You may not be able to prepare for everything, but you’ll know you have a scheduling system in place that handles changes easily.

By reflecting on past mistakes and continuing to improve your ministry scheduling process for the holidays, you’ll help keep yourself organized, improve your communication with your volunteers, and make it easy for them to help out at a time when they are needed the most. With the right tools in place, you may actually look forward to scheduling this holiday season! To learn more about how Ministry Schedule Pro can help you and your church this holiday, contact our expert staff today!

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