In The Strategic Church Leadership Process, Part 1, I discussed the first two steps of the process: Clarify the Culture, and Identify the Values. Once the culture of your church has been clarified and the values identified, you can then move on to setting the goals necessary to accomplishing the vision that God has given you for your church. In The Strategic Church Leadership Process, Part 2, I discussed how to plan your goals and focus your strategy for accomplishing those goals. Then, in The Strategic Church Leadership Process, Part 3, I covered organizing and aligning the systems of your church, and the execution of your strategic plan. Click on the links above to read those posts.
Now, we turn our attention to the final two steps in the process: unlocking the creativity and evaluating the progress.
Step Seven: Unlock the Creativity
Most pastors or church leaders make one of two mistakes regarding any new strategy:
- They wait until the plan is “perfect” before they begin implementing the plan; or
- They implement a new plan without checking it against the unique vision to make sure that it fits with the overall strategy for the church.
The Strategic Church Leadership process focuses on developing a solid plan based upon vision and goals. Then, pastors and leaders are encouraged to begin the change process (execute the plan) without attempting to perfect the plan. In other words, you have the road map that will take you to your destination. Now, it’s time to change the tires, get the oil checked, head out on the road, and enjoy the journey. The journey always involves potholes, detours, and lane restrictions, but ultimately you will reach your destination. If you wait until the car and the road ahead are perfect, you will never begin the journey. But, once you start on your way, you can become very creative in working out the daily details of the trip.
My friend, Larry Schubert, has developed a strategy he calls the Ministry Engagement Process, or MEP. The strategy outlines how to put together a creative team that develops the ministry strategies for fulfilling the unique vision for each local church. It is a creative process that begins to develop new ministries and new leaders across various focus areas within the church. Based upon Luke 2:52, the strategy engages people in four areas of their lives (spiritual, mental, physical, and relational) through four avenues within the local church (worship and children, youth, and adult ministries). MEP encourages teams to be creative in designing ministries in the local church that engage the needs in the community, thereby reaching people for Christ and developing disciples in the church. We hope to release this as a resource in an online store early in 2015. I will send out a blog post when this resource is available.
Step Eight: Evaluate the Progress
We’ve come to the final step in the Strategic Church Leadership process which asks the question “How can you improve the plan?” As the question implies, you will need to evaluate the progress that you’ve made and seek to make improvements to your strategic plan.
You are now moving across the bottom of the mountain in our diagram and are headed to the right side of the mountain to begin the climb again. As you evaluate how you are doing, you will discover that you need to be in a constant state of evaluation and improvement. As you prepare for your climb back up the mountain, you will take a new look at your current reality. Has your current reality changed? Are you further ahead than you were the last time you looked at your current reality? What areas do you need to improve this time?
One tool that I recommend is based upon a SWOT analysis. Instead of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, I use Right, Wrong, Missing, and Confusing. This tool can be adapted to any event or strategy. We list the answers to these four questions on a chart to help us evaluate the event, program or strategy:
- What went Right about our event?
- What went Wrong with our event?
- What was Missing from our event?
- What was Confusing about our event?
A good process of evaluation is necessary for every event, program, or strategy that you implement. It is through evaluation that we learn from our mistakes and strengthen the church. However, I have found that the evaluation step is one that few churches actually implement in their strategic process.
Next: BEGIN AGAIN
The Strategic Church Leadership process now begins again at a deeper level. With perhaps 12 -18 months of growing and changing, it is time to reevaluate your current culture. Revisit your unique vision to see if it needs reworded to make it more effective. Perhaps, God has added a new element to the unique vision since you were at this point the last time. Then, revisit your goals and focus on the one or two goals which will bring the best results this time around. You will begin to further refine your systems, perhaps adding one or two more that you didn’t focus on the first time through. You will begin to execute the changes to the plan and develop new leadership. You will find that your creativity increased and new people and/or staff are added to the team. You will constantly continue evaluating your progress and the process continues cycle after cycle – each time occurring at a deeper level of growth and opportunity.
- What is my plan for evaluating my progress on our church’s unique vision?
- Do we have a process for encouraging creativity within our local church?