Is your fall strategic ministry planning retreat on your calendar?  I have been working with several church recently on visioning and strategic ministry planning.  I find that people have a love-hate relationship with both of these.  People either love them or hate them.  There seems to be little in between.  I happen to be one that loves them!  I find churches and leaders that embrace visioning and strategic planning are among the most effective and vital.  I have developed a theory for why this love-hate theory might exist.  For those who have a strong distaste for visioning and strategic ministry planning, they have normally been through the investments of visioning and strategic planning with no measurable outcomes.  Therefore, they deem the practice a total waste of time.  An act of complete futility.  And they may be right!

And, I have developed another theory about visioning and strategic planning when it comes to churches.  That theory explains why there are often no measurable outcomes to visioning and strategic ministry planning.  Many goes through the long tedious process of visioning and/or strategic ministry planning.  They have a beautiful vision statement at the end that looks great on the bulletins and on their websites.  They may even have t-shirts printed with their vision statement!  But they create no strategic ministry plan for the vision to become a reality.  In other words, the vision is a dream.  They hope the dream becomes reality, but there are no intentional plans, goals, actions, or steps put into place. 

The same can be true for strategic ministry planning.  A leadership team can go through the incredibly hard work of creating a strategic ministry plan.  The strategic plan may even be placed in a beautiful binder. But it is placed on the shelf in hopes that it will come into fruition on its own.  No routine check-ins or accountability are in place. No alignment of resources was made to the strategic plan.  No adjustments were made along the way.  There are no repercussions for the goals in the strategic ministry plan not being accomplished.  The leadership team did the hard work of creating the strategic ministry plan, but the follow-through and accountability fell through the cracks. 

The disconnect is mighty real, my friends!  The disconnect between creating the vision or the strategic ministry plan and being intentional and accountable for living into each is real!  Naming it is one thing, but having the discipline and accountability to one another to make the hard decisions to live into it is quite another.  Believe me, you will be disappointed every time you vision or go through strategic ministry planning if you are not also willing to intentionally and routinely follow through and hold one another accountable.  On the other hand, if your leadership team is willing to do the hard work of visioning or strategic ministry planning AND the follow up work of follow through and accountability, you will come to appreciate and love the processes as they bring growth and vitality to your church!