Starting The Year Well

Making the Most of January

by Mike Stevens

[3 minute read]


It’s a bit of an Australian tradition to take time off over summer and head to the beach or the river and enjoy the sunshine with family and friends. In my world when I say the final prayer in our service on Christmas day, I’m super excited as I know I have a couple of weeks with those closest to me. After the busy Advent and Christmas season, this is a time to disconnect from work and reconnect with family and friends.

But when I get back on deck in January there is always a lot to do to get the year up and running. Before I know it we will be launching the year with staff, then volunteers, then the wider church and in no time we will be putting the final planning touches on Easter!

To maximise my re-entry in January and start the year well, here are my three practices:

1. Care

Healthy leaders lead from their growing relationship with Jesus. Healthy leaders don’t just know they need to care for their mind, body and soul, they actually have practices to cultivate this. One of my practices is to have retreat days. I like to get away in January, sometimes just for a day, to calibrate my soul with Jesus. This is a great time to listen and spend time praying and seeking confirmation about the year ahead – eg; themes, launch messages or vision, new initiatives, etc.

Due to the demands of ministry it is also wise to consider having a slower re-entry speed in January. What do I mean by this? Spend some time mixing things up – work from different places, spend some time reading on different topics, and try some things that look after yourself. This might even start some new healthy practices that transfer into your year.

2. Connect

January is the time to touch base relationally and connect with your core team of leaders – phone calls, coffee, encouragement cards, having some over for dinner. It’s a time to hear stories of summer and just enjoy hanging out without the immediate pressure of the demands of ministry or work without needing to talk too much about the year ahead.

It is also the time to sit down with your team to invest in their leadership formation, clarify vision and direction for the year ahead, put key dates in their diaries (seriously give time for this), and finalise any larger ideas / campaigns / projects that the whole team might need some clarity and direction on.

3. Communicate

I have learnt over the years that we need to over communicate. Engagement is the key and it requires multiple approaches across many platforms. In my context, I send out an email in January to the church with the theme for the year, key dates for the family diary, opportunities to serve, new initiatives, and an invite to our volunteer launch in term 1. I try to keep it brief and in bullet point form but craft it in a relational way.

But an email is not enough, we also:

  • Have a volunteer launch so that our volunteers can be blessed with great food and also hear the key message for the year;
  • I preach throughout February the vision for the year so that with changing attendance patterns all of our church family have a chance to engage with the theme for the year;
  • Use social media (eg; event campaigns, videos, images, etc) to communicate key messages to our church family.

So, we are in the month of January – how will you care for yourself, connect with your leaders and communicate with your people?

We would love to keep this conversation going and hear from you. What are some ways you can care / connect / communicate in your context? Please share in the comments below…..