The following step-by-step works well.
1. Contact me for availability. A year out is not too much. Send me an email with your desired topics, the desired dates, your church location and website, your leadership responsibilities in the church, approximate attendance, etc.
2. I will contact you and we will “pencil in” a date.
3. Go back to your church and ask if there is “championing” buy-in from the pastor, elder team, other pastors, target group in church.
4. If yes, contact me and I will commit to the date.
5. Start your promotion in partnership with your leadership team of your church.
OR – Skip 1 and 2 and contact me after you know there is buy-in from your leadership.
Advice Based on Past Experience
1. Start early.
Giving a long lead time allows you to beat the drum of advertising. Six months is usually a minimum.
2. Obtain personal buy-in from influencers before you commit.
Is your pastor on board and will he promote this? Or is he just “ok” with you doing this? As a former pastor, I know I cannot throw my influence behind everything. For the maximum attendance from your church, the pastor needs to be excited, and promoting rather than just “ok” with your conference.
3. Obtain buy-in from other influencers before you commit.
If you have a smaller church, are there other pastors who are excited as well? Before I invited a national speaker to our church, I asked several others pastors, “If I invited this man for a one day conference, would you come? Would you promote? I am not sure we can gather enough men from just our church.”
4. Obtain buy-in and feedback from your church’s target audience before you commit.
Before you issue a formal invitation, talk with the target audience in your church. Ask them if they will support and what day works for them. Again, before I invited this national speaker, I asked our men (the target audience), “If I invited this man for a one day conference, would you come? I am thinking about this date. Is that a good date? Any concerns you have for me?”
5. Focus on verbal recruiting and publicity.
Don’t rely too heavily on publicity vs verbal recruiting. People attend events like this because someone is championing the cause, not because of flyers and announcements. The six month lead time gives you time to generate excitement.
6. Get financial commitment for preregistration.
If you are charging a fee for the event, give an early-bird incentive like a lower price or a give away of some sort.
To think through what will be needed for the actual conference, see this page.