Thursday, October 31, 2013

Seven Common Strategic Mistakes in the Church

In my ministry, from my consulting, and from my work with other consultants, I have always gravitated toward the strategic center of the church asking these questions: who are we? Where are we going? How will we get there? Strategy is not everything in the church but it is something. God is strategic. Jesus in his ministry was very strategic. And as God has wired me, I am strategic. From my vantage point, I have influenced or observed some very exciting strategic decisions. I have also seen some strategic mistakes that the Church is making. Here are 7 Common ones:
We don’t think strategically and define our terms
For some, to think strategically is anathema to the greater purposes of pastoral care, community service, raising the next generation, or a host of other things. Are those things important? Sure. But strategic thinking puts them all in perspective, now and for tomorrow. Even when we do think strategically, we don't define our terms well. As a result, we don't know if a vision is of higher importance than mission, or the same thing, or necessary at all. It is difficult to navigate when we don't know the front seat from the back from the trunk.
We don’t define our mission in our context
Most evangelical churches ground their mission in the Great Commission in Mt 28:18-20. They then translate it into something like Win, Build, Send or some other memorable phrase. And that's a good thing. There is then often a disconnect between the when and where of winning, building, and sending. Are we doing that in 1950, 1980, or 2013? Are we truly addressing our church weaknesses which may be a barrier to winning, building, and sending? What is our internal and external context and how does that inform?
We don’t focus on the 20% that will yield 80%
There is a new idea born every day. The church down the street has a great one. The megachurch where we went to a conference had several. Oh yeah! Our Bibles have some. What was that other book you said you were reading? The question is, from all of these ideas, what are the manageable number of ideas that our church really needs right now? Just a few can make all the difference we need to focus on right now.
We don’t assign a strategy to one responsible person
So, we have narrowed down our list and it looks good in Word.doc and on PowerPoint, on the website, in the church newsletter, and at the business meeting. We even have T-Shirts! But who has the ball? Who is the one person who will take this forward? Does he or she need a team? Sure. But who is the team leader responsible to take it from PowerPoint to reality today, tomorrow, and the next day?
We don’t use S.M.A.R.T. goals to implement strategies
Vague generalities have never implemented a strategy. Our strategic actions need to be s.pecific, m.easurable, a.chievable, r.ealistic, and t.ime-bound. What are we doing? How will we know if we have done it? Do we have the resources and the backing of leadership? And what is my deadline on this?
We don’t define and follow a strategic calendar
Remember three years ago when we set those 40 goals? What ever became of that? A strategic calendar followed every year will ensure follow through on the best or least of intentions.
We don’t link strategies, staff management, programming and financial practices
The catch word for this is alignment. How do our strategies inform our organization, staff assignments, and staff performance expectations? What changes in programming will we make because of our strategies? What will we stop doing, start doing, or change the way we are doing? And when we get the check book out, what does a strategically-written check look like?
By my count there are over 20 questions in this post. If you will answer at least 10 of them in your church, I will buy you a lunch and then I will ask you one more: what difference did it make in your ministry? Alternatively, let's work together on answering those questions.


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