Yep, it is that time again.  It is a new year, so many are setting their new year’s resolutions.  The gyms will be packed this week, but in two weeks, the crowds will likely be back to pre-January numbers.  Many are not really resolved to make any changes after all.

How about your church? Does your church have a strategic plan for 2022?  Benjamin Franklin wisely said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”   Having a strategic plan for the church simply means that the leaders have strategically and intentionally designed a roadmap for the year on what goals the church will be working towards so that the church is faithful in its mission of making disciples as it lives into God’s preferred future – its vision. 

Once those goals are set, the ministry team leaders set objectives to accomplish those goals.  This means that ministries, programs and events are planned and scheduled in alignment with the goals rather than simply because we’ve always done a particular program or it is someone’s pet ministry.  We plan ministries because they align with the strategic plan.

Next, the budget is aligned with those objectives.  Too often the budget is set and then ministries are planned.  This is like the proverbial tail wagging the dog.  The assets of the church need to be leveraged to meet the strategic plan.  If the budget is not available to support the objectives, the goals will need to be adjusted.  But I would caution leaders to really discern before adjusting the goals.  If the church has already discerned the vision that God has called the church into and the goals are the steps in living into that vision, what are the faithful steps in finding the assets to realize the vision?  If God is calling the church into that future, God will provide a path to make it happen.

Don’t forget about the importance of accountability when it comes to implementing the strategic plan.  Without accountability the strategic plan will likely get shelved until the end of the year.  When we pull it out in December, we will be disappointed that the goals were not accomplished and wonder what in the world happened.  We will likely brush it off and claim that strategic planning doesn’t work.  But in reality, without having the pastor accountable to the board/council for the goals and the ministry team leaders accountable to the pastor for the objectives, the strategic plan will not be accomplished.  At a minimum, monthly progress reports need to be made and questions asked if the progress is not on track.  Adjustments can be made as needed, but just quitting or forgetting about goals or objectives is not an option.

Ideally this strategic ministry planning is conducted in the fall, so it is ready to launch on January 1st of each year.  But, if your church has not yet created its strategic plan, it’s not too late.  It is much better to have a strategic plan that’s a bit late than it is to have no strategic plan at all!  If you need some assistance in creating your church’s strategic ministry plan, check out this resource, Strategy Matters.

“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”

Richard Cushing