Twice in the past month, I have found myself talking with ministry leaders about the future of two different church ministry organizations. It all focused around having a strategic plan. The ultimate question: is there a plan? As we talked about it, we finally decided that there was a plan. But the fact that we had to have an extended conversation about it made me wonder:
- Is the plan clear?
- Do people know we have a plan?
- Can we measure our success from the plan?
Although I could say that we did have a plan, I could not answer yes to the questions above. Not yet, anyways.
Then I thought to myself: do churches have a strategic plan? I never asked this question before, but in my experience, I have not seen or heard anyone talk about it. Sure, plenty of ministries within the church or parish have goals and plans. That’s really good! But how does it fit in with the greater work of their church? How do my ministry plans move the entire church forward to achieve it’s stated goals?
I’m an advocate for organizations having and creating strategic plans. If we are going to be successful in accomplishing our mission, then we need to name the steps that are going to get us there. What I’ve discovered is that we often have great goals that are lofty and “high in the sky.” What we lack are the steps that are going to move us from point A to point B to point C.
I think a strategic plan does a few important things for a church or organization:
1. It makes the dream seem achievable. Therefore…
2. The plan motivates people. We achieve what we see. We don’t achieve what we don’t see.
3. Everyone sees the bigger picture. The team and staff understand how their ministry fits into the greater mission. Therefore…
4. The plan creates clarity. Each individual ministry has clear direction on how to move their ministry forward, in line with the plan.
5. Resources are clearly directed. Each individual ministry understands why resources (money, people, etc.) are being funneled to a certain area of the organization and not another. Therefore…
6. There will be less complaining and unease about why a specific ministry is not getting a bigger budget or bigger staff. Why? Because they have the bigger picture in mind. This creates…
7. More transparency in the organization. Everyone in the organization can answer the fundamental question: why?
Strategic planning takes time and effort. I have to ask myself, is it worth the effort? The answer is clear.