Setting up a New Lighthouse: Timeline

It is recommended that you allow three years to set up a Lighthouse from conception to completion - but of course if you are ready to go faster we will support you every step of the way! The timeline below represents the recommended three year plan.

Three Years before Lighthouse

Talk to Lighthouse Central  (LHC) so we can support and advise - we are here to help and will talk you through our Scope of Service so you can see exactly what we offer.

Sowing the seeds: talking to the Church Leaders, involving Churches Together, identifying people to work together on this exciting project. LHC can help with presentations, videos etc.

Think about possible venues for the Lighthouse week and contacts in those venues – we recommend a school and can advise you on what to look for.

Come and see an existing Lighthouse in action, LHC will organise visits to a cross section so you can experience different types and size of sites.


Two years before Lighthouse

1. Organise 'Find Out More' evenings

Arrange two or three information events on a selection of days and times. Invite everyone who may be interested. Share the Statement of Faith for Lighthouse  which includes the Vision, Mission and Objects Lighthouse Statement of Faith - and invite people to state their level of interest. LHC can join you to talk about Lighthouse  and answer questions.

2. Volunteer at an existing Lighthouse

Encourage anyone who has expressed an interest in being involved to volunteer at a Lighthouse - there are jobs for everyone!  Roles at Lighthouse  LHC will match you to the most appropriate Lighthouse who will mentor you through this process and support you during your first year.

3. Register as a charity (CIO)/Identify Trustees

Identify potential trustees from across the local churches. You will need at least six trustees and it works best if they are from different churches. This helps hugely with recruitment of helpers and spreads the knowledge base.  Registering as a charity is done online via the Charity Commission website and LHC will support you with all the necessary documentation -  we are now experts after doing a  few!  Think about  inviting Trustees who have a heart for children and applicable skills -  we have church leaders, youth workers, children's workers, teachers, lawyers, accountants...   

You will need to have an initial Trustees meeting to  agree and sign your LH Constitution, a Trustees Declaration Trustee declaration and go over Trustees roles and areas of responsibility.

4. Management Structure and Areas of Responsibility

As well as a Chairman and Treasurer there are other key areas of responsibility, which need to be allocated to the trustees dependent on their areas of expertise.  One person can oversee multiple areas!  The areas marked with an * are optional.  The key areas of responsibility are:

Administration Volunteer Co-ordinator Prayer/Pastoral Church Liaison
Discovery (Teaching)MainstageMusic/BandDrama
Craft Sports TechnicalLamplighters
Site Manager/Facilities Finance First Aid Helpers Children 
SafeguardingDBS Helpers RefreshmentsShop
The Space (Special Needs)*  Little Lighthouse*   Parents Cafe*Creche*

5. Financial Support 

As soon as you are set up as a CIO you can open a bank account.  So now is the time to contact your supporting churches, as well as other churches in the local area, to ask them to pledge their financial support.   Also look for local grant givers and donors eg: local councils, supermarkets, Rotary, Round Table & similar charitable givers, local businesses. When opening the account you will need to identify who the signatories will be, usually the chairman, treasurer and possibly two other trustees. The suggested Financial Year runs from 1st October through 30th September.  There is lots of useful information and downloads available in the Lighthouse Toolbox and also on the government’s website Setting Up a Charity

6. Agree the date for Lighthouse Week

Lighthouse takes place for one week during the school summer holidays. Generally it is held the first full week of the holidays.

7. Select a venue and book it

Once the dates have been decided, it is time to find a venue. To date Lighthouses have been run either in marquees, in schools or more frequently a combination of the two. Choosing a school only is generally cheaper than using marquees. When looking for a venue consider its location, how accessible is it for the children that will be attending, is there sufficient parking for your volunteers AND for parents/carers to drop off and pick up children. Secondary schools work better than primary schools as they are larger and have better facilities and the classrooms tend to be larger therefore able to take larger groups of children. Where possible choose a mixed school as single sex schools lead to toilet issues.

During a site visit review the available spaces against the Site space requirements Site Space Requirements and timetable Timetable to ensure there are sufficient spaces of the right size.  

Also check that the age groups have sufficient time to transition between activities. This is also an opportunity to produce a site plan. Helpers will need a map that indicates where the different activities are taking place. Venues can often provide these plans but it may be necessary to create one specific to Lighthouse requirements.   

It is also helpful, but not essential, if the areas used are close together. This makes it easier to keep the site secure and also keeps the amount of time spent moving between activities to a minimum. Do not underestimate how important it is to have a supportive venue. A supportive caretaker can have a significant impact on the smooth running of Lighthouse week.

8. Set-up Online Giving and Gift Aid

Once you have received you charity number you can set-up online giving. This will make donating as easy as possible for your supporters. LHC recommend BT MyDonate as having the lowest fees. You also need to register your charity with HMRC in order to be able to claim Gift Aid. This can be done online at HMRC Charity Recognition

One year before Lighthouse

September (approximately 10 months before Lighthouse): Scheduling

All the important dates for the year should be agreed. Trustee meetings should be held regularly and minutes must be taken. Schedule at least two information/recruitment events for January or February. Ensure these events are properly planned and thought out. It is important that supporters’ first contact with the Lighthouse brand is confident, organised and effective.

Schedule regular prayer meetings for everyone to attend. 

Agree training dates for all helpers usually in June and July. 

Confirm the dates of Lighthouse Week not forgetting the Dedication Service, which is held on the Sunday before Lighthouse. 

Schedule a de-brief meeting in September and lastly schedule the AGM, usually in November once the accounts have been completed.

You will be able to upload all these dates on your pages of the Lighthouse Central website.

October (approximately 9 months before Lighthouse): Finance

The 1st of October is the start of the Lighthouse Financial Year. Now is the time to contact your supporting churches and other churches in the local area to inform that Lighthouse is definitely happening and you now need their donations. You can also apply for any local grants that are available to new charities. Now is also the time to be thinking about setting a budget. A master template can be downloaded here Budget Template but each Lighthouse will have different costs so please be sure to personalise it to reflect your Lighthouse.

December (approximately 7 months before Lighthouse): Publicity

Create/personalise information sheets to be distributed in January to publicise the launch of Lighthouse. Examples of these can be found here. LHBE A5 Flyer

January (approximately 6 months before Lighthouse): Meetings

Excitement will now be building in the local area and it is important to harness this excitement and enthusiasm. Information and recruitment events will be taking place. Try and have as many trustees at these meetings as possible as this is a great opportunity to forge relationships and identify key volunteers.

Review the recommended LH Timetable Timetable and discuss any changes with LHC/ your mentoring LH.

February (approximately 5 months before Lighthouse)

On line registration will open for Volunteers via the Lighthouse Central website. Encourage everyone who is interested to sign up. This will automatically prompt for two References and DBS information and if required will email details to volunteers of how to apply for a DBS. Please ensure you have identified your DBS checkers, they have signed up as checkers with LHC using this form DBS Checkers Declaration which they should return to director@lighthousecentral.org and that they are familiar with the checking process. Details can be found here: Help for DBS Checkers

Continue with your recruitment events. If possible have laptops/tablets available so you can sign people up at the recruitment events.

Promote Lighthouse at every possible opportunity.

The  Discovery (teaching) and Mainstage and Drama materials will be available for you to review and share with helpers who will be involved in delivering those three key areas.

Whoever you have identified to head up your craft team can start planning crafts that reflect the teaching materials. It is important that items required to create the craft are identified as soon as possible so that collection lists can go out to the churches.

March (approximately 4 months before Lighthouse)

Identify key roles that are yet to be filled and start targeting individuals with a personal request. A key roles spreadsheet is available here Key roles

Revisit the site and confirm availability and access to the venue in the days before Lighthouse to allow for decoration, signs to be put up, marquees to be erected, confirm exactly which rooms are being used and for what. Confirm availability of WiFi.

Arrange to attend assemblies in the local schools to raise awareness of Lighthouse. In primary schools this will encourage the children to want to attend and use Secondary schools for recruitment of Lamplighters.

LHC will organise Ofsted Exemption for you.  We recommend you make the local police and fire brigade aware of your event and contact your local council to establish whether or not the event requires a licence. 

April (approximately 3 months before Lighthouse)

Now is the time to start thinking about music for Lighthouse. There are songs used at Lighthouse on the You Tube Channel. Lighthouse YouTube site The Band should be meeting regularly to get to know each other and to start practicing the chosen Lighthouse songs.

As part of the morning worship (ReFuel) for the helpers it is good to have different speakers give a ten-minute motivational talk. Now is the time to approach people that you think would be good in this role.

The Volunteer co-ordinator will now be allocating helpers their roles, which will enable the trustees to identify outstanding needs.

May (approximately 2 months before Lighthouse)

Excitement will now be reaching fever pitch as Children’s applications open online. You need 150 children to make Lighthouse work. It can be run with less children than this but in order to have the right atmosphere and the right level of financial support from parents 150 children is the minimum recommended number.

By now you will have the majority of your helpers in place. This will enable you to agree the number of children you will take in each age group. Each Lighthouse Keeper, assisted by two lamplighters, can be responsible for up to 12-15 children dependant on space. Once the trustees have agreed the number of children in each age group work with Lighthouse Central  to update your Target and Actual numbers by Age Group to ensure you are not allocated too many children.

The planning for the Craft should be complete by now and it is a good idea to invite craft helpers to a craft making session. This is an opportunity to try out the craft ideas while there is still time to modify them if required.

Insurance will be put in place effective May 1st and covering Lighthouse events all year. LHC will organise your insurance cover and invoice you.

June (approximately 1 month before Lighthouse)

Plan and deliver your Volunteers training sessions. Offer more than one date and time. In your first year training is imperative and Safeguarding Training must be done EVERY year. The Safeguarding video can be found here: LHC Safeguarding Video

The Teaching, Mainstage and Drama teams should be ensuring they have the correct resources for their sessions.

The Sports team will need to liaise with the venue, if a school, to borrow sports equipment or source from other suppliers.

We ask that all volunteers wear a Lighthouse official red t shirt.  This makes volunteers easily visible on site. Volunteers can order these when they register.  Some Lighthouses ask for a donation to cover the cost of the t shirt and lanyard for a badge of £5. LHC offer additional branded items such as polo shirts, hoodies, zipped hoodies (zoodies!)... Please ensure that Lighthouse Central have received your order for t-shirts, sweatshirts, polo shirts etc, lanyards, shop stock such as kids t shirts and hats. This is all done on line via the Database.

It is important that the site is well sign posted. This will enable people who are not familiar with the site to find their way around. Ensure you have signs for activities, toilets, First Aid, parking and registration. Ensure that Prohibited Areas are clearly identified. Signs should be laminated or vinyl so they can be used in subsequent years.


Children’s places will be allocated and tickets issued.

Hopefully all your planning has paid off and you are ready for Lighthouse.

The weekend before Lighthouse, decorate the venue to reflect the theme, put up all your signs so that no one gets lost. Encourage volunteers to join in this task!

The Dedication service is on the Sunday afternoon before Lighthouse. This is a final opportunity for teams to meet up and for any final questions to be answered.


It may not be perfect but the children won’t notice and they will learn about the love of Jesus

Don't forget to thank key people (particularly the venue and the caretaker) and invite Volunteers back for next yea

It is nice to thank the helpers on Friday. Many Lighthouses have a closing service and a BBQ. Some delay this until Sunday for a big celebration service in a church!

September (approximately 2 months after Lighthouse)

Host a debrief meeting and ensure all area co-ordinators are invited. 

A feedback questionnaire is available via the Database that can emailed to all volunteers and parents of children who attended. This feedback can then be used to improve next years Lighthouse. 

Remind all helpers to send in any expense claims before the end of the month as 30th September is the financial year end. 

October (approximately 3 months after Lighthouse) 

The treasurer should produce the accounts and have them audited. 

Invite everyone involved in Lighthouse to the AGM. This is a great opportunity to share how successful Lighthouse was.  

November (approximately 4 months after Lighthouse) 

Host the AGM. This is a great opportunity to recruit new helpers and share your vision for Lighthouse Year 2. The Chairman and Treasurer will present their reports. 

Once the Accounts have been audited and approved at the AGM they can be uploaded to the Charity Commission website. This is also a good time to complete the Charity Commission Annual Return.