How to Use Asana to Plan a Sermon Series

I’m an Asana fan. I use it for my weekly to do’s and to manage projects for our church . Sermon series are a major project that happen several times a year. To help me stay on track and make sure all the pieces for our series come together, I use a project template.

Here’s how it works.

Typically after a series planning meeting or talking with a our Lead Pastor, I’ll go into Asana and copy the project template from a previous series. The project is divided into sections based on the major things that go into a pulling off a series like design and graphics, promotions and then post-series tasks. I like to add a section that covers the marketing materials, just to make sure I have everything covered.

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First, I’ll map out the timeline for design and graphics. Typically, we run a 4-6 week timeline, depending on the series and how much marketing will go into it. I’ll add dates for when the initial design concept is due and how long we have for feedback and edits. After the design work is done, I’ll upload it into Google Drive and begin ordering any of the print or marketing materials.

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Tip: Begin with the end date and work backward to establish your due dates for tasks.



Promotions and marketing varies for each series. Usually our staple promotions will be social media graphics, eNews/bulletin and invite cards. For a longer series or one that is geared toward reaching our community, we may add a mailer or a video, too.

In this section, I outline the promotions timeline. We’ll promote a series 2 to 4 weeks out from the start date.

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Finally, I create a post-series section. This is where I mark tasks that I’ll need to do after the series launches, like update web links and banners with the series page.

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There you go! That’s how you can use Asana to map out your next sermon series.

What about you? What tool do you use for sermon series planning?

The Tension Between Relationship and Rules

 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” – Exodus 20:2

Context, context, context. My pastor always drives home the importance of context when preaching the Bible. You have to look at the context of a passage of Scripture to understand the meaning.

Keeping this in mind as I was reading through Exodus, it hit me how God delivers the 10 commandments (Exodus 20) after establishing His relationship with the Israelites (Exodus 19). He establishes His relationship with them before giving the commandments to them.

This is an applicable lesson for church communicators.

It’s important to establish a relationship with your pastors and team mates before you introduce rules and systems. Communication is relational. It requires trust. Trust is established through relationship. Not rules.

At the same time, guidelines and systems are vital for clear and effective communication. Without them, you end up communicating everything which translates to nothing. Your message will get lost in the clutter and noise.

There’s a tension between the relationship and rules. In my few years experience working in ministry, I’ve found that many pastors and leaders are highly relational and prefer to focus on that, rather than systems and structures.

As a communicator, it’s your job (and mine) to help balance this tension within your church. Provide the structure and the systems but do it in the context of relationship.

When leading church communications, remember to establish relationship and build trust before you implement rules.


Case Study: Easter 2015 Communication

You made it. Another round of planning, prepping and praying for the biggest Sunday of the year under your belt. Congratulations!

We had an incredible day at Southbridge Fellowship with our highest attendance ever and saw more people accept Christ than at any other service in our history.

Here’s a quick look at what we did for Easter:


Aerial view of our 2015 Easter service

The Service – This was the second year of outdoor Easter services. We currently meet in a movie theater and use the adjacent parking lot to bring in a stage and chairs to host the outdoor services. One benefit to this approach is the amount of people who find out about our church simply by driving or walking by. My favorite story was from two young women who were originally on their way to Target saw the gathering and decided to attend. One of them made the decision to trust Christ during the service! How awesome is that?!

Design – We drew inspiration from vintage Billy Graham era posters and hatch print design. The outdoor service and gospel focus reminded us of revival days so we took the concept and ran with it. Web banners, social media graphics and print pieces were created from this design.

Promotion – Our promotions focused on visual and easy to share social media content and personal invitations. We shared videos and graphics on our social networks leading up to Easter. Our social media efforts were a combination of organic and promoted posts. We spent about $50 and reached thousands of people.

We handed out invite cards multiple weeks before Easter with an announcement from our Lead Pastor about the importance of personal invitations. We produced a silly video with the help of our Children and Youth Pastors to give tips about how to (and how not to) use invite cards.

Results – Over 1,100 people attended and many people accepted Christ as their Savior!

Easter can be an exhausting day when you work at a church. Take some time this weekend to rest, recharge and reflect on God’s work …and then get ready ’cause Sunday’s coming!

How did your church celebrate Easter this year?



Here’s a look at some of our social media posts: 

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3 Lessons from Video Announcements in the Snow

For the past few weeks we’ve experienced a mix of snow and ice in Raleigh. This sends our city into panicked frenzy to scavenge grocery stores for milk and bread because those are necessary for survival in .5 inches of snow.

One of our staff values is “make it better.” This means any team member can offer ideas and improvements to any area of ministry. One of our pastors and my friend has encouraged me to dream and think about ways we can improve our videos by adding touches of humor and creativity.

With that in mind, our team decided to have a little fun and leverage the snow for our weekly video announcements. We ventured outside into the thick of it and shot right in the middle of the snow storm. It still included our weekly welcome and a few events, but we added some humor at the end. Our Executive Pastor even joined in. By doing this, we engaged our audience with what they were currently experiencing in their own lives and gave them a chance to laugh. We actually got an applause at the end of them!

When was the last time someone clapped for your video announcements?

Here are three lessons I learned from this experience:

1. Mix it up. 

Most video announcements have a pretty standard format and flow. (Welcome to guests, sign up for this event, check us out online) This is great for familiarity and consistency. But mixing it up every once in a while makes people perk up and pay attention.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You could add a new host, include a special interview with a ministry leader, or ask a volunteer to share about the team they serve with, have a missionary record a short update video on their laptop and include it. There are tons of options out there!

What small change would make your announcements better this week?

2. Your audience will be as engaged as you are. 

We had fun filming this and in turn our church had fun watching it. Sometimes we focus too much on making sure we include all the right information that it’s easy to forget it matters how we say it. We should enjoy what we are creating. Because if we don’t, why would anyone else?

3. Get out of your comfort zone.

To be honest, I find most attempts at humor in church videos to fall flat. I shy away from this approach so I was hesitant at first. But our church loved it. I’m learning, with the help of my teammates, to think outside the box and try new things, even if it’s outside of my comfort zone.

What do you think? What lessons have you learned with video announcements?

How to Create an Inexpensive Booklet

Print pieces can get expensive fast. Most churches, mine included, don’t have a massive communication budget to spend on print pieces. And booklets are one of the most expensive print pieces because of the multiple pages. I’ve found we can ease this cost by printing a cover out-of-house and finish the inner pages in-house. This gives a finished look but costs significantly less.  This doesn’t work for every booklet application, but it’s especially useful for pieces like devotionals, reading plans, prayer guides and small group guides.

Here’s how to do it: 

1. Design a full-bleed 8.5×11 cover page.
(That’s where the color extends all the way to the edge of the page.) I’ll usually ask our design volunteer do this. This will fold to a standard 5.5×8.5 booklet.

2. Order the cover from an online or local print vendor. 
I like to use Overnight Prints or NextDay Flyers. I select the full-page flier option and have it printed one-sided. Usually, I’ll pick a heavier cover stock option, like the 100#.  (To give you an estimate of cost savings, 1,000 full-page fliers only costs about $200.  1,000 12-page booklets would cost about $1,000.)

3. Set it up as your cover page and then print the inside. 
Configure your print settings to a booklet with a cover page and finish with bi-fold, staple-binding. Keep in mind: To do this, you need an office printer that can run a heavier stock without jamming (because jams are the worst) and can do a staple-binding.

And voila! You’ll have a pretty print piece without busting the budget.

Here’s an example from our small groups expo.





If you liked this post, here are a few more you might like.

How to Create Bulletins In-House

How to Create Video Announcements

Communication Vocab: Words You Need to Know

The next time you are involved in communication or strategic planning, these are a few key definitions to keep in mind.

Strategy – What

What are you going to do? Your strategy is the words you put down on paper to overview the plan you have created. 

Tactics – How

How are you going to accomplish _____ ? This is the set of activities that you and your team will do in order to accomplish the strategy. 

Audience – Who

Who are you trying to reach? This is the people group that will be the focus of your tactics. 

Goals – The win

What does a “win” look like?  These are generally expressed in numbers; although, that can vary in a church setting. For example, we want to see __ % growth in our groups ministry by next year. 

How We Did Christmas Eve in a Movie Theater

This year we held our Christmas Eve services in our regular meeting space – a movie theater.

In previous years, we’ve rented venues that were large enough to hold our entire church (about 700 people) but none were available this Christmas. Even though we knew the space itself would present some challenges, we felt it could be strategic as many people would be out shopping and even attending movies on Christmas Eve. So, we plunged forward.

Here’s how we did it.

Because each theater has limited seats, we used Eventbrite and had people reserve tickets. We set the limit at 15% above seating capacity, knowing that some would take more tickets than they needed. Next year, we could probably set it closer to 20-25%. Tony Morgan has a great article about Christmas Eve tickets.


Live and Video Venues
We had a live venue and a video venue, just like we do on Sundays. Attendees could reserve tickets for either time. This allowed us to maximize seating for that night. We opened the theater doors 15 minutes prior to the start of the service so folks were lining up around the building. This created a lot of buzz and excitement outside.

Making a movie theater look and feel “Christmasy” was a bit tricky. Movies were still playing that day so we only had about an hour to set up the actual theaters. Thankfully, we were able to get into the lobby space at noon.

IMG_5597We shared the lobby with movie goers so we created a distinct entrance for those attending the service. A very generous church member donated Christmas trees and poinsettia to help make the theater feel more like Christmas. Hospitality team members were scattered throughout to assist and answer questions.


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We passed out 4×6 invite cards two weeks prior. We created a landing page on our website with all the information and pointed people there to reserve tickets.

We placed a banner ad in the lobby of our movie theater 3 weeks prior with our Christmas Eve design and service times. We placed a large emphasis on personal invites and social media sharing.

At the end of the Christmas Eve service, we passed out invite cards to our January sermon series.

CE bulletin

6×9 bulletin with a tear-off connection card.

We printed a 6×9 perforated card for our bulletin. The front had information for first time guests and our Christmas offering. The back had space for notes. We keep it simple so people could focus on the gospel message, without the clutter of announcements.


Pre-service countdown included pictures people had posted as part of our social media contest.

Social Media
Since our sermon series was called ‘Tis the Season, our Lead Pastor approached me about creating a social media contest where people submitted their best Christmas photos…whatever the Christmas season meant for them. We created a hashtag, picked a few winners and announced them at the service. The winners got a free Southbridge t-shirt and a Starbucks gift card. We also streamed photos in for our pre-service countdown.

Christmas Eve is always my favorite night at our church, and this year was no different. Our amazing volunteers stepped up to serve, the gospel was shared and people accepted Christ.

What about you? How did your church celebrate Christmas Eve?