I have worked with a lot of churches. You name it, I’ve seen it. But, as time goes on, I’ve seen commonalities among teams and situations. In many cases, as we sit down to walk through a strategic plan, I’ve grown to expect a resistance for change. It is by no means unanimous resistance, but more so hesitancy among team members that are passionate about the traditions of the church.
Our team worked with one particular church and was met with excitement instead of hesitancy towards the idea of change. But further into the process, the team started saying things like this:
“We’ve tried to make changes like this before and we never see it through. Something always comes up that causes us to stop or change direction. This looks great on paper but it really isn’t worth the effort.”
They believed in the plan. But, they did not believe in the team’s ability to execute the plan.
Execution may very well be the greatest missing key within churches. In its absence, the following occur:
- Change is talked about more than it is made
- Opportunities are chased, taking the focus away from potentially successful ministry
- The church continues to decline as leaders are unsure of next steps
- Your team loses faith in the future of your church
So, how can you develop a plan to create a healthy and growing church? Here are 5 steps towards successful execution:
1. Designate a Champion
No matter how focused you are, the day to day always catches up. In order for your strategic plan to survive and create change within your church, someone must protect it and push it. A great project champion is someone that is a systematic leader who can effectively break down small projects into small steps.
The person should not be the senior pastor. While the senior pastor is casting the vision, someone else should be connecting that vision to reality (the plan).
2. Clarify How the Plan Gets Changed
Your church and your community are dynamic – evolving environments full of change, challenge and opportunity. This is why you can be sure that your strategic plan is going to change.
Clarify which leaders have the authority to make changes on their own, and what needs to be brought to the leadership team. Setting aside specific time to discuss updates and changes related to your plan is crucial for the overall success of the plan.
3. Define Responsibilities and Authorities
Delegating responsibilities leads to organization within your team and allows each team member to understand who owns which components. With each person having a clear and solid understanding of the system and task ownership, this will clear the way for leaders to operate efficiently without unexpected political slowdowns.
4. Constantly Clarify Priorities
There are always a large number of tasks your team could be focused on. Therefore, your team needs reminders of what on the plan takes priority. As the leader, you communicate the priorities in two ways: what you say and what you measure. Make sure to frequently discuss your priorities to keep them top of mind. Additionally, evaluating the metrics of your priorities communicates importance and urgency among your team to work diligently towards them.
5. Give it Time
Please note that each strategic plan takes time to yield positive results. It will cost you something. Please do not waver and lose hope when this happens. You cannot expect final results from an incomplete process.
What is on the other side of your strategic plan? Better yet, who is on the other side? There are people in your community who desperately need a relationship with Jesus and the opportunity to take a step toward Him. You developed your plan because you wanted to serve them better. Now it is time to see it through.