Saturday, February 9, 2013

LEADERSHIP: Running a plan or running blind?

The mission statements of churches are very similar.  They involve learning, living, and sharing the Word of God and the love of Christ.  So what do you do with that?  MAKE A MINISTRY PLAN!  No matter how big or small a church is, they need a plan.  If you don't have one this year, put it on the calendar for next year.  A ministry plan provides direction, gives people the satisfaction of feeling a part of something, and encourages participation.  If you're a smaller congregation and don't want to go through a huge strategic planning process just take a few hours on a Saturday and keep it simple.

Who's on the TEAM?  The strategic planning team should include church board members, the pastor(s) and other church professionals, and specifically chosen members. A team that is too large will take too long to make decisions.  Get input from the congregation at large by creating a survey so they feel they have a voice.  If you use a Google Doc it will automatically compile the responses into a spreadsheet.  Be sure to ask questions to get responses regarding the strengths and weaknesses of current ministries and if there is a way the church might be helpful in assisting them with their personal ministries.  You may be surprised at the great ideas they have but never had a chance to share.

Where do we START?  Questions should be intended to gather honest information such as: 
  • What percentage of our people are involved in ministry?
  • What are we doing well? How do we know?
  • In which areas of ministry are we meeting the needs of the congregation?  The community?
  • Are there only a few members who seem to do everything?
  • Do people want to be more involved?  If so, how can we meet that need?  If not, are we doing something to send a negative message?
  • Do we deny opportunities for ministry?  If so, why?  Should we?
  • Do all of our ministries point to Jesus?
  • Do we provide enough opportunities for Christian education?  Life and service?  Missional opportunities?
  • What are our strengths as a congregation?  Weaknesses?
  • What are our opportunities outside the congregation?  (partnership with community organizations, schools)
  • What are our threats?  (internal conflict, societal beliefs, church or synod politics)
Don't let the discussion take over the meeting.  Be sure to have somebody who can keep things focused and if necessary, set a time limit.

Write the plan down and refer to it throughout the year.  Share the ministry plan with the congregation.  You may find you'd like to do more for the youth or the children, create a stronger relationship with your preschool, find and share more resources for parenting, create a stronger relationship with a nearby nursing home or retirement village, provide resources for single parents, etc.  There are SO many ways to meet the needs of the people and invite those in the community into the church to be cared for and about.

A lot of churches know what they want to do but don't write it down.  Write it down.  Revisit it periodically.  Change it if necessary.  What I know for sure is that if it isn't written down people will forget. Plan, just don't make it such a confining process that nobody wants to do it or follow it!

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