Worship planning assumes that a calendar is used. The assumption in worship planning is that we anticipate future worship. However, every week is not the same. We do not plan with 52 generic weeks of worship devoid of any special significance. Worship planning goes easier and with more satisfaction when a calendar with a pattern or rhythm is in view.
However, that immediately brings us face to face with the question of which calendar we ought to observe. Four different calendars vie for our attention. A choice needs to be made.
The chronological calendar. The year begins in January, flows through the seasons of winter, spring, summer and fall, and then ends in December. It is possible to organize the church's life along these lines. In January we begin a new year and have a new calendar; in December we put it away.
The church-program calendar. The program of most churches begins in September. "Everybody's back", we say. New classes and schedules are established and continue through late spring when many activities slow down again for the summer months. Should worship be planned according to this essentially nine-month calendar?
The "greeting card" calendar. Many social and secular events also ask for attention in our worship scheduling. Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Eagle Scout Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and a variety of other such observances often have great influence on the worship schedule of some churches.
The Christian year calendar. This pattern observes the reenactment of God's drama of redemption through the ministry of Christ. In this case the year begins in Advent (four weeks before Christmas) and continues through Pentecost, a season of growing, until we arrive back at the beginning of a new year at Advent again.
While it is difficult to isolate these calendars from each other, worship planners should clearly identify which will be their primary calendar. We suggest the Christian year calendar as the primary planning tool.