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How to Execute a Strategic Plan at Your Church – Crafting the Plan

strategic plan

When most leaders work on strategic plans and initiatives, they tend to jump headfirst into creation mode.

I get that temptation. As a strategic planner who’s conducted countless planning workshops, I understand the desire to start with our future hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, developing a new strategy before determining the current reality is a recipe for problems.

In the past several posts, I’ve outlined the importance of evaluating our current reality as the first step in the strategic planning process.

The Best Strategic Plans Have Four Distinct Segments:

  1. Determine position and reality
  2. Develop a strategy
  3. Design the tactics
  4. Measure the progress

The first step is the most critical step. No strategy that ignores the current reality can succeed in totality.

Determining Position and Reality Looks Like This:

  1. Establishing success (Mission and Vision),
  2. Clarifying aspirational behaviors and values (How do we do things around here?),
  3. Understanding our points of differentiation (What makes us, us?), and
  4. Asking our one unifying question (What must be true in a year?).
  5. Evaluating our reality in light of success.

After this strategic planning phase, you and your team should have a complete and honest understanding of who you are and where you are. This understanding is our starting point from which we’ll build our strategic bridge to our desired destination.

We turn to the second segment after concluding the evaluative portion of planning.

Develop a Strategy

If you say, “It’s about time,” I get it. The evaluative process is long yet fundamental to our process. The better we define our position and reality, the better prepared we are to develop our strategy.

The second portion of our strategic planning process follows a similar plan as our first segment.

The steps to develop your new strategy proceeds in this fashion through a series of questions:

1. How will we succeed?

Our first step in the strategic planning process defined success (mission and vision). This segment answered the “what” of success. Now we turn our planning to the “hows” of success. How will we succeed?

As you already know, church success is defined by life change through the love and power of Jesus. To simplify our strategy to the irrefutable minimum, we are trying to Great Commission our community.

How can we do that best? I believe the answer is through steps, not programs. We must build ministry models of movement, not moments. Just as the “renewing of our mind” is a process, we should build ministry models to facilitate movement. That’s what spiritual formation and discipleship pathways attempt to do.

How will we succeed? By creating a model that moves people through a discipleship process.

2. What specific areas need addressing? How should they be prioritized?

After redefining the “how” of success, we focus on the specific areas that are working and not working on our discipleship pathway. After evaluating everything we do in light of success, we can decide:

    • What should we keep doing in its current form?
    • What should be retained, but needs some revitalization to work within our model?
    • What should we add along the continuum to help people move through the process?
    • What should we quit doing altogether?
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Gavin Adams believes the local church is the most important organization on the planet and he is helping to transform them into places unchurched people love to attend. As the Lead Pastor of Watermarke Church, (a campus of North Point Ministries), Watermarke has grown from 400 to 4000 attendees in five years. A student of leadership, communication, church, and faith, Gavin shares his discoveries through speaking and consulting. Follow him at @Gavin_Adams and at gavinadams.com.