I have worked with a lot of churches. You name it, I’ve seen it.
But I’ve grown to notice a common theme among the teams I work with. In many cases, as I begin to work through planning process with a team, I’ve grown to expect a resistance for change. Not an unanimous resistance, but a hesitancy among team members that are passionate about the traditions of the church.
I often hear things like:
“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.
Follow-through may very well be the greatest missing key within churches. It’s probably the number one complaint we get from church leaders about their teams. You might’ve felt some of these things:
- 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. For your strategic plan to survive and create change within your church, someone must protect it and champion it. A great project champion is someone that is a systematic leader who can effectively break down small projects into small steps.
HINT: 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.
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
Effective delegation allows for clarity within your team and allows your team to understand who owns what. And while this sounds really simple, this is one of the most common reasons church teams get stuck.
With each person having a clear and solid understanding of the system and their responsibilities, this will clear the way for leaders to operate efficiently without unexpected political slowdowns.
4. Constantly Clarify Priorities
There are always plenty the team could be focused on. Therefore, your team needs reminders of what on the plan takes priority.
As the leader, you communicate priorities in two ways: what you say and what you measure. 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
Each strategic plan takes time to yield positive results—it will cost you something. When this happens, don’t lose hope! 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 are planning your ministry strategy to reach them, but without an effective and healthy staff team, you’ll quickly hit barriers.
On The Unstuck Church Podcast, my team is diving into a tool that will help you learn how to reinvent your strategies in a way that will unify your entire team around the mission and the right priorities. It’s called the Strategic Alignment Pyramid, and I really think listening to these conversations will help you take the right steps towards aligning your strategies with the foundation of your Church.