Strategic Planning for Churches

Strategic Planning for Churches: Undertake These 5 Steps

Every organization around the world needs planning to sustain in the dynamic environment in which it operates. This holds true for churches also, which have traditionally shirked from any formal planning. However, as the number of churchgoers and the finances of these churches decline, strategic planning seems the best solution to address the problems.
SpiritualRay Staff
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
"Where there is no vision, the people will perish...."
―(Proverbs 29:1)

These words, taken from the Holy Bible demonstrate the need for churches, like other organizations, to map out their strategic plans. Strategic planning has always been viewed with skepticism by many church leaders who find formal planning a formidable exercise, for which most of them are not trained. There is also a view that planning is not biblical. However, the Bible does teach planning both implicitly and explicitly. For example, while studying creation, it is obvious that God worked with a master plan. However, this has been long forgotten with time, leading to severe repercussions in the recent years, like the inability of the church in meeting their congregation needs and the decline in the number of church goers. This has led to the need for the introduction of strategic planning to mobilize and motivate the church in the achievement of their goals.
What is Strategic Planning
The concept of strategic planning is a business-based discipline, which serves as a roadmap for the organizations to visualize their goals and know how to get there. Although this definition can be applied in this case, a suitable church-specific definition of strategic planning was provided by Van Auken in 1989 where he described planning as the process of turning vision into reality. Others, like Gangel, propounded the fact that church leaders should actively engage in planning. He stated that "The development of goals in a church or any Christian organization must be accompanied by the development of a plan whereby those goals can be achieved". Effective planning is, thus, a prerequisite for the success of any organization and that includes a church as well.
The Steps for Strategic Planning for Churches
The strategic planning process for churches is to match the resources of the ministry and the available opportunities. The church should pen down these steps for their strategic planning purposes.
Step 1: Define the purpose of the mission or the reason for its being. This includes bringing together the right people who would be responsible for visualizing and incorporating what the organization is to become. A good statement of purpose sets the boundaries in the realization of the goals and brings clarity as to what the church is to do.
Step 2: Analyzing the environment is an important part of any planning process, which would give the church an overview of the external environment and the internal strength and weaknesses. A very useful method in this case would be a swot analysis, which is an acronym for strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strength and weaknesses stand for the internal factors and the opportunities and threats stand for the external elements involved. A detailed swot analysis can help the church realize the factors on which it has control and act on them.
Step 3: How does the church establish its objectives? The answer lies in the question, where do you want to go? Objectives are the desired results which also serve as the yardstick for performance measure. List down the objectives that the church needs to achieve in clear, concise statements. These objectives should be in tune with the church's overall goals and should also enable it to mobilize the energy and resources for the same.
Step 4: Drawing up a plan of action should involve defining the overall strategy and then operational plans should be developed. Each plan should provide a definite view of what is needed.
Step 5: This is the step that would proceed once the plan has been implemented and results have been achieved. The results could be attendance, baptisms, or even a change in behavior, but these need to be appraised and controlled. The steps to then alter the objectives, to adjust activities, people or finances have to be made.
The strategic plan is a blueprint that would guide the church or the ministry in the implementation of their plans. As churches increasingly face declining numbers and finances, a strategic plan can go a long way in addressing the issues of the constantly changing world. It is vital that church leaders from around the world be provided with the skills and the training for incorporating the strategic planning in their ministries.