Strategic Planning Scenario #3

Wondering what I’m talking about here? Read THIS BLOG ENTRY and these scenarios to catch up!

Strategic Planning Scenario #3: Joe and Jane walk through the front doors of your church. Because they’ve not been in church in so long, certainly not as a couple and with kids, the first order of business is to figure out where they are supposed to go and what they are supposed to do. Do the kids stay with them in the service? Are they supposed to be dropped off somewhere? Where are they supposed to go first? 

By now you know what questions we are asking ourselves. What are you feeling about this scenario? Are you confident Joe and Jane will have a positive experience?

Obviously, we can keep walking with Joe and Jane through your church service. Their experience will likely include:

  • Sitting in your service before it begins.
  • Experiencing worship in your service.
  • Experiencing various elements like offering, announcements, and some creative element(s) in your service.
  • Listening to a message by either yourself, another church leader, or a guest.
  • Experiencing your church in the post-service environment – between the pew and the car.
It’s a very valuable exercise to walk through what Joe and Jane will experience on a normal week and ask yourself what you feel about their experience and how confident you are that Joe and Jane will have a positive experience.

This exercise is a foundational exercise in Strategic Planning. It has to do with evaluating where you are today in the ministry activities and environments you offer to your congregation and community.

Strategic Planning Scenario #2

Wondering what I’m talking about here? Read THIS BLOG ENTRY  and Scenario #1 to catch up.

Strategic Planning Scenario 2: Joe decides to give your church a try. He pulls his family out of bed and they manage to get to your parking lot with only two bouts of sibling rivalry and one heated disagreement with Jane, his wife. As they drive up to your church (a few minutes early) Joe and Jane can’t help but notice the condition of the building, the parking lot and landscaping. They aren’t really trying to be critical-  its just that they haven’t darkened a church door in many years, they really don’t know what to expect, and they are just a little nervous; so details are a lot more noticeable than they might normally be.

So now is a great time to ask the same questions in Strategic Planning Scenario 1. How are you feeling about their first look at your church? Nervous? Embarassed? Perhaps confident or pleased? You’ve heard it said that first impressions are important; but it’s not often we would equate a few weeds or uncut grass as an opportunity to turn someone away from Christ. Yet that is exactly what could happen in this situation.

Core Value: Excellence.  When we choose to do things with excellence it tells everyone around us that what we are doing is somehow important to us (and God). This cues them in that it should perhaps be important to them as well. It is a Core Value that sets the stage for an open heart. Conversely, if we choose to do things average or half-heartedly the impression of our guests and attendees is “where I am and what is going on here isn’t really that important”, simply because we didn’t give it our best in preparation.

What does this have to do with Strategic Planning? Everything. Your strategic plan is going to identify your core values (like excellence) as well as help to develop plans and systems to get the little things done with the least amount of weight and work on your part.


Strategic Planning Scenario #1

Wondering what I’m talking about here? Read THIS BLOG ENTRY to catch up.

Strategic Planning Scenario #1: Joe Smith, who lives 8 miles from your church, finally decides he wants to “try” church with his family (after 15 years being away from church). Joe is 32 years old, is married, and has three kids (two in gradeschool and one in preschool).  He does an internet search for churches in the area and comes across your church website.

OK. If you are a pastor let me just ask a very simple question. What are you feeling right now knowing this man is looking at your website? Nervous? Happy? Hopeful? Embarrassed?

Do you think he will be more or less interested in clicking ANY of the links on your website after looking at the front page? Joe has been browsing the internet his whole life. He has an internal meter that says the website will probably reflect the organization. Does your website reflect your church and you? There are three things in particular Joe wants to know, since he hasn’t been to church in a long time and he’s bringing his family. Will your website help him with these questions?

  1. Will my kids be OK there? What will they do and who will they be with?
  2. Will I be bored and uncomfortable?
  3. Do I really want to do this?
This situation requires Prayer AND Strategic Planning. 

Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth

Several years ago we read a book as a team that really started us on the path of strategic planning at Elim Gospel Church. It was called, “Leadership Transitions for Growth” by Michael Fletcher. The book has now been re-released by the title, “Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth“. It’s a short and easy read, and played a big role in helping us to change our mindset as a leadership team for growth.

Among other things, the book discusses how to build a leadership structure for the NEXT stage of growth you are believing God for in your church/ministry. He said it best on page 43:

“To cross over into a new stage, leaders must understand what lies ahead and make the necessary realignments before they expect to move to a new level of growth.”

He explores three questions for small size churches (under 200), medium size churches (200-700), and large churches (over 800):

  1. How do the Elders relate to ministry?
  2. Who does the ministry?
  3. How are decisions made?
If you have been struggling getting your footing in church growth, I would recommend this book as a resource, especially in the area of how your church leadership is currently structured.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Attributes of a Church in Decline

Tony Morgan grabbed my attention again this week in his blog entitled, “5 Attributes of a Church in Decline”. He shared what he and a fellow blogger felt could be five key attributes of a church in decline. What strikes me as so interesting is simply that all five attributes are indicative of a church that isn’t led by someone who thinks strategically for the future. For instance, as I’ll share in a future entry, a clear mission and vision is a very basic and key first step in strategic planning. What do you think?

In case you have a difficult time reading this chart, the five attributes are:

  • Lack of mission and vision clarity.
  • Failure to define a concise strategy to help newcomers become fully-devoted followers of Christ.
  • Complex structure.
  • Inward-focused with little connection to the surrounding community.
  • Weak leadership especially in the senior pastor role.
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