Allow me to give you something to think about and to chew on… However, please have this understanding: the local church is essentially a living organism; and like a living organism when it is healthy it will grow.
When you are looking to move your church forward with Strategic Leadership, remember that the local church already has its own mission and purpose given Biblically. However, within this, the effective strategic leader must move forward in fleshing this purpose/mission out with the unique DNA the Lord has given your local church. You could look at this unique area as your church’s platform. This platform is where you and your leaders will execute the stewardship given by the Lord to move forward in what He has called your church to do.
Think about what is the primary ministry area on which all of your church’s ministries should flow from and be built upon? Remember, that is here where your church will begin to flesh-out all of the gooey stuff, such as the statement of faith, vision statement, mission statement, philosophy of ministry, and the aligning of all other ministries to these.
As you flow forward, remember that the core focus is not on numerical growth, but on improving the overall health of the church. Trust me, numerical growth follows healthy, active and thriving churches that are on mission with God and fulfilling the Biblical purpose for their existence.
Sometimes church leaders sort of balk at the idea of strategic planning, and then sometimes church leaders do strategic planning but then nothing ever really becomes anything of it.
Answer these questions first with your church leaders
- What are the greatest spiritual needs of our church?
- What are the greatest spiritual needs of our community?
- What are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of our church?
- What are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of our community?
These questions will – or should – open up dialog with your church and church leaders about some serious things. Also you will begin formulating baby steps toward what is known as the Strategic Needs Assessment and the Strategic Strengths and Weaknesses Assessment.
Of course, you want to look at your Opportunities and Threats as well. In other words, what are the most significant opportunities for and potential threats to our church. Following this you may even want to begin looking into the realm of Barriers. Barriers are things that are in the way of maximizing your Strengths.
One of the areas that sometimes become the greatest conversation piece is the area of Options. In this, you will start openly discussion and looking into the areas and opportunities that may be present and/or possibly there as viable options for strengthening the ministry of your church.
Also, be sure to keep in mind and actively discuss on an ongoing basis the core Ministry Goals. In other words, what is the Lord leading your church to strive for to enhance the overall ministry over the next year? The next two to three years? And beyond?
- Hey, don’t make the thing to complex. Making the process too complex will lead to discouragement and non-participation by others.
- Don’t start Actions with ambiguous planning at best. If things are not clear, don’t act on them. Reach an agreement across the board with those on the planning team. Also, it works well to have a few people in the congregation to bounce things off of confidentially to collect reactions and thoughts before moving forward. For example, I know of one church right now that their largest influx of people is coming through one avenue of ministry, however, their action plan produced an entirely different outcome than what was actually happening at the church. Think clearly, pray, and be prepared.
- Taking way, way too long will kill the thing to. Of course, a proper strategic planning course will take a while, and rightly should. If you strategically plan for three months and then just throw something out there, well, that’s what you’re going to have is something that is “out there.” Strategic planning is done incrementally and has information and data to back it up, not to mention God’s guidance through prayer as leaders are on their face before Him.
- Lastly, but certainly not least… Don’t waste your people’s time. Try this one on: Average up how much each one of them makes by the hour, then you’ll start getting into a realm of the value of time. Time is priceless and cannot be reclaimed. So don’t waste others’ time, especially if they’re volunteering it. In the pursuit of pushing the strategic envelope, sometimes we can lose sight of wasting our most precious resource. How do you stand in the accountability factor of producing something with the time you’ve gathered from other people versus wasting their time on not producing anything of a lasting nature?
- If you’re going to do it, do it right the first time.
In closing, allow me to give you a huge strategic corner piece of the puzzle…
Your church requires leaders. Identify and recruit leaders, and even potential leaders. Build Discipleship-Leader Development into your Strategic Leadership Plan. But don’t just stop there, move forward in developing, deploying, and supporting the leaders you have assembled and put together.