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12 Steps to Plan Your Church Conference

By Christine Bove

Read time: 5 minutes

Today, many Christians gather not only within the four walls of the church but also in other venues. With the vast capabilities of the internet and social media, reaching a broader audience is now easier than ever. The church can be propelled forward through events such as conferences, gatherings, and seminars. 

These gatherings, if done well, draw large crowds, edify worshipers in their relationship with the Lord, and present an opportunity for those who may not otherwise hear the gospel to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Your church’s special event can be a powerful instrument of God’s love and grace to save, strengthen, and edify the souls of those in your community.

12 Steps to Plan Your Conference

Step 1: Assemble Your Planning Team

Your planning team is the group of people that gather together to ideate and help make your conference a reality. This group is focused on the pre-launch phase of your conference and then helping make sure it runs smoothly. This group is one you choose so that it can consist of staff members, key volunteers, and board members.

Be selective in who you ask to join your planning team. You’ll want to define the skills you will need to make this conference a success. And when you are seeking your teammates, think through if they align with the vision of the conference you are creating. 

How to recruit for your planning team:

1. Look everywhere and consider everyone

2. Cast a clear and compelling vision

3. Meet with potential planning members

4. Be clear about roles, responsibilities, & expectations


Step 2: Pick Your Theme

Now that you have invited your team members to join, you can host your first meeting! Use the meeting as a time for everyone to get to know each other. Following that meeting, schedule a time where, as a team, you can ideate the theme of your conference event. As a team, prayerfully consider the ideas that stay and take time to process through the selected ideas. All ideas should be filtered through God’s goal for the conference and the vision you carry for it. From there, you have a more precise direction of where to go moving forward!

Step 3: Develop Your Conference Branding

Now that you have your vision and theme, now comes the time to establish your conference branding. What is the overall look and feel of your conference or seminar? If you have someone on your team who is gifted in graphic design, this would be an excellent opportunity for them to step in and collaborate with you on the visuals for your conference or seminar. 

Decide on your event name. You can either do this as the leader or invite your team to ideate through name ideas for your event. Once you have decided on a name, you can begin to explore the brand colors, fonts, and logo for your event. 

Need more guidance on developing a brand? Download StartCHURCH’s Church Branding Ebook! While the language may be for church branding, you can use the same principles to develop your conference’s brand.

Step 4: Set Your Conference Budget

Whether you decide on the budget as a team or the budget is determined by your board of directors, you will want to begin the process of creating your budget for the event. 

You can begin with estimates of the costs. Venues will vary depending on the location. Speakers and teachers will have different prices on what they charge. If you are providing food at the event, catering will vary. Marketing and advertising will be a large expense, depending on your marketing strategy. Staff on location to help with the event will have a set charge. As you think through your event, build your budget around that through estimations. You can always update it later after you have details solidified.

Step 5: Select Your Location & Venue

One of the most important aspects of planning your seminar or conference is where it will be located. You will want to pick a location that will not only be large enough to accommodate the size of your conference but also handle parking as well. 

Hotels are an excellent resource for hosting conferences, and many of them offer conference packages, including food based on your headcount.

You could also see if a larger church will rent out its location for your conference or seminar as well. 

Step 6: Create Your Conference Website & Social Media

As the beginning parts of your marketing initiative for your conference or seminar, create a website for it. This will be essential for all people interested in attending the conference, registering for it, and getting specific information regarding the event. 

Search for a website platform that will highlight the main features of your event, a place to register, and a place where your live stream can live. Some registration software will easily integrate into a website, so make sure your website platform can use that feature. There is software to assist with live streaming your event, so make sure your website can host the live stream.

While you work on your website, establish all of your social media accounts as well. Then, not only can you make a grassroots effort to promote your event, but you can also pay for ads to show to invite more people to your event.

Step 7: Pick Your Registration & Live-Streaming Software

There are plenty of options to use for conference or event registration. One thing to keep in mind is the cost of using the platform and integrating it within your website. You want to make sure the registration process is easy and painless. You don’t want to lose registrants because of a complicated registration process! For live-streaming, make sure you have the technology to pair with the software. So watch reviews, test the software yourself and see what would be a great fit. 

Step 8: Invite Your Speakers & Teachers

When is the best time to invite speakers and teachers? Honestly, the earlier, the better. Before you request speakers, make sure you have your conference’s theme and vision solidified. You want to make sure the speakers and teachers you are inviting align with your vision and theme.

Keep in mind, teachers and speakers will have differing prices for what they charge. Therefore, you’ll draft a contract once your speaker accepts and discusses their payment option. Usually, that looks like a 1099 and a contract signed. 

Step 9: Plan the Itinerary 

As you solidify your speaker and teacher list, you can begin to create your itinerary. This is the entire schedule for your event. Whether a one-day seminar or a multi-day conference, you will want to plan out each day with specific times and locations. 

You will want to create two itineraries: the first, the itinerary that all your attendees will see and use. The second is for yourself and staff to know when transitions are and when and where people will need to be.

For the attendees’ itinerary, list each day, then the times, the speakers for those times, and when breaks are. Again, specific times and locations within the building are essential to help people figure out where to go. Typically, an itinerary is printed and can be passed out to those who attend.

For your own itinerary, list specific times for the intro, prayers, speaker talk times, any transitions, and closures. Your itinerary will be a more robust version of the one your attendees will see. This will help all of your conference staff be on the same page as you and the correct timetable.

Step 10: Do an On-Site Visit & Test Your Online Platform

So by this point, you have ideated and planned as much as you are able. Now you will want to test out your ideas and make sure they can be implemented in the space you are using. 

If you are meeting at a physical place, do a walk-through following your itinerary. Does it flow as smoothly as you thought? Does anything need to be added and changed? Where will your speakers rest before and after they go on stage? Where will your attendees take breaks and eat their food?

If you are hosting a digital conference or seminar, you will want to do a tech run-through. Using your chosen software, are you able to log in and access it? Are you able to start the event? How will you manage the transitions? Do your cameras work and connect? How is the sound output? 

To get a better idea of hosting online services and events, look to our StartCHURCH Connect ebook. While the language is geared towards churches, you can apply the same principles to any online event and service.

Step 11: Go Live!

Now that you have had your practice and run-through with your new changes, you can officially launch your event!

Have plenty of volunteers and staff members on hand to help with the event. Walkie-talkies are very helpful to have between key volunteers and staff members to stay connected and for anything urgent.

Pray with your team before the event, and watch God move!

Step 12: Feedback & Retrospective

Now that your event is through meeting with your planning team to go over what went really well and what could be improved. Take notes, so you know what to implement (or not implement) for your next event. 

From the registrants’ contact information, email a thank you for attending the event. You can also create a survey for them to fill out so you can see the good and the needs-improved portions of your event through the eyes of your attendees.At StartCHURCH, we are here to help you succeed in all aspects of your ministry! From compliance to bookkeeping, from church planting to ministry growth, we have the resources you need to fulfill God’s call on your life. If you would like to speak to a church specialist to answer all of your questions, we would love to serve you. Please call us at 877-494-4655 or click the banner below to schedule an appointment.


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