Author Lynne Shivers

Church event planner and author of "God is in the Details"


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When should an event planner hire an event planner?

Pulling hair outEven the most seasoned event planner may have to hire an event planner one day. What are the cues, signals or innuendos that would suggest you need to bring in someone else? Don’t let pride get in the way. If you need help, you need help. Hiring an event planner can save the event and keep you sane.

With more than 30 years experience of orchestrating more than a thousand events, I certainly thought I could plan my daughter’s wedding with ease. The excitement of being so intricately involved in the outcome turned out to be more than I could handle. Everything consumed my every thought. I wanted it perfect. It had to be the wedding of a lifetime.

My daughter and her fiancé scheduled their wedding on Sweetest Day in October, which coincidentally was Homecoming weekend for the local college football team. I reminded myself how successful I had coordinated other multiple high-profile events simultaneously. So, c’mon, this is just another event.

Planning had been moving along just fine until it was time to find a photographer. My choice was a guy at church who was a professional photographer. I had not seen him in a few weeks since his wife had been diagnosed with cancer. It was a Friday afternoon and so I thought to give them the weekend and wait until Monday to call. Eager to talk to him, I called early Monday morning and asked him if he was available for my daughter’s wedding. My heart dropped as he said, “I just scheduled a wedding this past Saturday for that same weekend.” What? No!! I got off the phone and cried. A few minutes into having a really good pity-party, of blaming myself for not having called on Friday and of course, asking God why, why, why, I gathered my thoughts. “Wait a minute,” I said to myself. ”There are at least a hundred photographers in this city alone and you know quite a few of them!” I knew then that I was too close to the planning. I could not separate being the mom-of-the-bride from being the wedding coordinator. The event planner in me would have had a Plan B and simply gone to the next photographer in line. But the mom in me was too focused to have only those I wanted to be part of her big day. I realized if the wedding was going to be a success I couldn’t be over the planning of it. I needed help. So, I hired a wedding planner. The result? The wedding was a success. But more importantly, I had my sanity. And my daughter had a mother of the bride.

event-plannerMaybe you’re facing a similar situation. It may not be a wedding. It could be an event scheduled too close to another event or major situation happening in your life. So, when should you hire an event planner?

  1. When you’re too emotionally attached to the event. Emotions can run havoc on our decisions. Events such as weddings, funerals, special anniversaries can create expectations that render decision making difficult. Stay level-headed. Hire someone.
  2. Overwhelmed with other projects. Do you have a lot of things on your plate? No end in sight?  Hire someone.
  3. Major personal things happening in your life at the same time. Health24. com lists 41 major stressors that are life changing. Although death of a spouse, divorce, marital separation, imprisonment and death of a family member rank the top five in that order, there may be other things not on the list that can affect you personally and cause you not to be on top of your game. Relieve the stress. Hire someone.
  4. Disinterest in the event. Not all event planning is exciting, but you have to stay on top of tasks to keep on schedule. If complete boredom has set it, this can bring on procrastination and indifference. Let someone else be interested. Hire someone.
  5. Post-event tasks overlap with other events. Even though the event-day is over there are lots of things yet to do: process honorarium paperwork or write checks to pay speakers, send thank you letters, finalize budget, tally evaluations, write executive summary or lessons-learn document, return rentals, etc. When events run back-to-back, post event tasks can overlap with upcoming event tasks. Assigning someone to handle just those tasks can alleviate a lot of stress. And when you can’t assign? Hire someone.


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Excerpt: Preface

Thank You, Lord. I give first thanks to God, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for allowing me to finally finish this book. It has taken years to complete. It seemed to be an eternal work in progress and a burning desire that I could not shake as I taught workshops and minicourses on event planning at colleges. Somehow, someway I had to write a book for churches and religious groups—His people. God is the master event planner. As He is excellent in all of His ways, we see His magnificent work every day. It’s been ten years since I wrote these first pages for Him, which now are given to you.

I hope you will find God Is in the Details helpful as you plan your Christian- focused event. It has truly been written from my heart. I have shared not only my successes, but also my mistakes and mishaps, with hopes that you will learn from my experiences and not repeat the same. My prayer is that you will have peace, that all of your events will be blessed, that God will get all the glory, and His children will be edified, refreshed, and restored because of your efforts.

May God’s peace be with you, Lynne E. Shivers


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How to Rethink Your Disappointing Event

asianwsitWhy art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. — Psalm 42:5

You were sure it was from God….to plan that event. You remember how He dropped the idea in your spirit. It was almost like Paul on the road to Damascus. It was so clear. You could see the event in your mind. You envisioned its success. The weather? Perfect. The food? More perfect. The people…oh, the hundreds, no, thousands of people attending that event. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Surely if God gave you the idea He would make sure everything turned out just right? Right? But the Big Day comes and it falls well below your expectations. The thousands of people in your dreams turn out to be more like 100 (most of which were your family and friends). The weather was awful. The food even worse. What went wrong, you ask? Could you have been so wrong in what you thought you heard God say? More importantly, how could God let you down?

In this time of trying to search answers to what went wrong you may also find yourself discouraged, depressed and unsure about a lot of things. Often this uncertainty can cause us to look for a natural reason rather than a spiritual revelation.

As a special event planner for over 30 years, I have experienced really successful events and really bad ones too. Here are a few ways I have used to regroup after my perfect event turns out to be anything but:

  1. Keep your spirits up. The enemy’s goal is to weigh you down with questioning God with all the whys: Why didn’t You help me? Why did You let it rain? Why did You let the speaker get sick? And the food spoil? Why didn’t You put it in the hearts of people to come to the event? God knew from the beginning exactly who would be there. What the weather would be like and that the food would spoil. But I remember Job asking, should we receive only good from God and not bad?
  2. Pray. Prayer is essential in reconnecting to God after a failed event. We may think we do not want to discuss our anger and disappointment with God, but He knows how you feel anyway! When you are emotionally ready to hear from God, ask Him what you could have done different. I’ve learned that God is constantly trying to talk to us and with us. But sometimes we just don’t hear. Don’t allow your spirit to become bitter.
  3. Praise. Just as our scripture says, “…for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” Situations change with praise. Even my very worse, absolutely, most awful event demands a praise to God. David began this scripture with questioning why his spirit was low. Disquieted means worried or anxious. A bad event can do just that, cause much concern and unrest. But I thank God for the latter part of the scripture…David teaches us to praise God for every situation. Our hope is in God. He is our present help. When I don’t understand. He does. When it doesn’t make sense. He knows.

 

Rethink your disappointing event as an opportunity to praise God. I’ve experienced the depth of God’s comfort when I have been most extremely disappointed. Learn how to breathe in His peace. Sit in His presence. Feel His hope. Trust His actions. No. God has not left you. This event experience will pass. You will get over this. You will have another chance to do better next time….and another time to praise Him.

 


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Tired of the Same Church Event Over and Over? Think about the “What If’s”!

cbt_pcard_RHSThere’s something about routine that can be comforting. It can be reassuring, soothing and calming to do the same thing over and over and over. However, there is an opposite to routine, too. A laziness that results from doing something without change that can lead to distress, boredom and weariness. I’ve heard people say that routine is like traveling on the expressway for many hours. After a while you do not see  the yellow markers dividing the lanes. The lines, a symbol of safety if you stay in your lane, gets placed in the back of the mind. They become invisible. Their purpose insignificant.

Sometimes when planning the annual church event we can get into a rut. The same event, every year. The same way, every time. The same speaker-type, every time. Someone may say, “There’s no reason to change what’s not broken!” But I think God is too creative to do the same thing the same way….all the time!

Drew Allen Miller, in his book Maverick Marketing …on a shoestring budget!, states,

The appropriate way to create original works is to become familiar with a lot of other people’s ideas. Creativity is when someone takes a whole lot of ideas … and uses them for inspiration. They mix, modify, swipe, swap, adopt and adapt until they create something truly different from the examples they started with. Creativity is best defined as looking at one thing and seeing another. Ideas are nothing more than a new or different arrangement of known, existing elements.

Where can you get ideas? Everywhere!! What are some interesting or memorable ways to make your next annual event interesting? Look at the world around you. Attend other events (not similar to yours). Speak to people who you think would have no interest in attending your event and ask why?

One thing I like to do is insert, “What if we…” in front of each phrase below:

• cosponsor with another auxiliary or committee?

• find new members to be on the planning committee?

• hold it off the church site?

• target a different group?

• make it bigger or smaller?

• take stuff away from it?

Incorporating any of these new dynamics will influence the end result. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Remember, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” (Tim. 1:7).

Approach the organizers in a way to seek their advice for the new idea rather than telling them how boring the last event was. Some folks may defend their event like a hen does her baby chicks. Be prayerful in finding the right time to bring up the new event/planning idea. And don’t take it personally if it is not received the first time.

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.” —Philippians 4:6


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Church Event Planning Gone Haywire! Five ways to get things back on track.

Way before the moment you realize that things have gone off schedule, most likely there were red flags present, but did not recognize them or understood what they meant. One of my favorite scriptures is found in I Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Although we understand that this scripture, written by the Apostle Paul, is referring to speaking in tongues in church and having an interpreter present to explain what was spoken, I like to focus on the last two words….in order.

Pulling hair out

To have a successful event you have to plan for it. Event planning is simply following a myriad series of steps— in order— so that the event planning will run smoothly. Here are ways to get back on schedule:

  1. Take a deep breath…okay, based on your stress level you may need to take a couple. It’s hard trying to find answers when your mind is screaming about how far behind you are. Find a quiet spot and let your mind be calm for a moment. Think about your physical space, the background noises, your own breathing. You have to be in order first (in your mind, in your spirit) before you can hear from the Lord. The enemy bombards our minds with thoughts, yet the Bible tells us, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isa 26:3)
  2. Jot down on paper or use your computer/IPad the things that have been done so far (this is to appeal to your emotional side that you’re not a complete failure!). Some things have been done you just have to bring them to the front of your mind.
  3. Write down what still needs to be done. Write as fast as you can as the tasks come to mind. Don’t worry about correcting your spelling, grammar or putting them in order at this point. The purpose is to get them out of your mind and onto something you can see.
  4. Now as you look over your list start to organize them. Tasks can be organized by category. For example:
  • Contact speakers: keynote/workshops, secure hotel rooms
  • Registration: create online registration form, order bags and name badges
  • Food: Contact caterer, determine menu

Or tasks can be organized by the week

  • Week 1: Contact keynote speaker and/or workshop speakers; secure hotel
  • Week 2: Create online registration form, order bags and name badge
  • Week 3: Find caterer, determine menu, return contract
  1. See where you can get help. Is there someone who can lend a hand? Eccl 4: 9-10 reminds us that it can be helpful to work with others.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Ask the Lord for direction on who you can go to for help. They may not be able to do things the way you would have done them, but the work will be done….and that’s better then it not being done at all!


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Praise for “God is in the Details”

Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Read below for praise for “God is in the Details,” available for purchase here.

So you’ve been asked to plan the next big (or small) church event. Such a request strikes fear in the heart and a barrage of questions flood the mind. The good news is God Is in the Details is your answer. Lynne Shivers, an experienced event planner and seasoned minister, has penned this groundbreaking and necessary tool for individuals who have been tasked with planning a church event. She presents a biblical-base foundation for planning events that magnify the glory of God. Her step by step instructions for event planning are useful for event planning in churches or secular arenas. If you have a passion for excellence, God is the Details is for you.
—Dr. Debby Mitchell, Founder
All Things Artistic Ministries, Inc. Christian Writers

Prior to my retirement from Joy of Jesus Ministries in Detroit, I planned and successfully implemented many events. However, I have learned one thing for sure after editing Lynne Shivers’ comprehensive book, God Is in the Details; there is always more that we can learn. It is a wonderful resource tool for all event planners. Oh, how much I wish that I would have had this awesome book “back in the day.” It has been a pleasure to serve as Lynne Shivers’ editor. Do yourself a favor and get a copy before you plan your next event.
—Minister Mary D. Edwards
Leaves of Gold Consulting, LLC

For the past seven years I have prayed, cried, worried, put notes on paper and then lost the paper trying to prepare for a successful conference. Attending another conference, as the Lord would have it, I met Evangelist Lynne Shivers and in conversing I mentioned to her concerning my conference. As we talked she informed me that she was an event planner and that the Lord had instructed her to help me take the conference to the next level. As we journeyed through the planning time line and her blueprint of P.E.A.C.E.; her expertise, wisdom and knowledge, eliminated all doubts, fears, and removed the struggles. Needless to say, it was the best and most successful conference since its inception. Lynne’s knowledge of event planning is God sent to the religious community.
—Dr. Eula Payne-Williams
President/CEO
Bruised But Not Broken Conference