Finish Strong!

Four steps for wrapping up this year and getting a jump start on next year

by Kristin Schultz

As we approach the end of the school year, you may be wrapping up your school-year programming. These days, do you find yourself thinking, “Just one more . . .”? “Just one more month and then vacation!” Or, “Just one more month and then VBS!” No matter how you’re feeling at the end, use these four steps to finish strong, be refreshed, and get excited to start up again next year.

Step 1: Appreciate

You began the year by inviting volunteers to be a part of God’s ministry. Now, it’s time to thank them for their service! Before everyone scatters for vacation, gather your volunteers for a meal or snack. Thank and encourage them with the downloadable Thank You for Serving with the Joy of Jesus ministry message. As volunteers leave, give them a gift and a handwritten note telling them how grateful you are for their willingness to serve.

Step 2: Evaluate

Next, take the time to evaluate your ministry. What went well? What could have worked better? What obstacles did you face and overcome? Evaluating last year is one of the best ways to prepare for next year. If you know what works well, you won’t waste time reinventing the wheel. If you can identify one or two small things to improve, you can strategize solutions in advance. (CTA offers several downloadable retreat outlines that can help you evaluate, strategize, and plan with your entire staff!)

Step 3: Take a breath

It’s important to thank your volunteers before they head out for the summer, and it’s important to evaluate the ministry right after it ends because you don’t want to forget anything. Now that you’ve wrapped it up, take a breath! This is a good time to get out of town or take a staycation. If you can’t get away, work half days or take a few days to clean your office and get rid of things you don’t need. Dust your desk and filing cabinets. Order new supplies. Clearing out last year’s clutter will make you more creative as you plan for next year.

Step 4: Look ahead

It’s time to get excited and plan for next year! Use your evaluation from this year to guide your planning, set achievable goals, and start brainstorming for next year. Here are some tips.

  • Do creative work like planning during the time of day that you feel the most energized. Some people work very well in the morning, while others are most efficient in the evening.
  • Change your view. If you’re getting stuck, work somewhere else. Take your work to the library, a coffee shop, or your patio furniture out back.
  • Involve the right people. Make sure to include all stakeholders in your planning - staff, volunteers, participants, and the like. Make sure you’re aware of any changes to the calendar or availability of space. Meet with other ministry areas to make sure your plans don’t conflict with one another.
  • Ask for feedback. Give your plan to other ministry workers and ask for their feedback.

Always: Pray

Thank God for the ministry he has given you and ask that he use you according to his purposes. God is always there to support and encourage you with his Word!


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