I recently had the privilege of attending the one-day Deep & Wide Tour with Andy Stanley. It was a day well spent! Both the content and the messenger were top notch and relevant to ministry today. The folks at Westside Family Church in Lenexa, Kansas did a great job hosting the event!
I took much of what was communicated to heart and am blogging a series of reactions to some of the main ideas.
Most ministry leaders agree that taking worship attendance or counting new members is not a good way to gauge the spiritual growth in your church.
Andy Stanley says it like this:
“If making disciples is what real counts, then we should really count it.”
Most churches and leaders wrestle with the questions of what should we count and how should we count it.
Andy and his NorthPoint Church count and make a big deal about these four things:
How many people serve at least two times per month in a ministry at your church?
How many people are regular/percentage givers?
I’m interested to see how churches define and determine this. If someone gives once a month, they are probably a regular giver. How do you measure percentage givers? Do you go with the number of people who have committed to percentage giving?
How many people have invited someone to church in the last 6 months?
NorthPoint determines this by surveying their people periodically. I guess you could also get the information from your Connect Cards or new membership process.
How many people are in a small group connected to your church?
This is the only number that NorthPoint has tracked consistently over time. It is their priority.
What are other things that you measure?
How to you keep track of it?
Let me know!
Once a ministry has identified the need for strategic planning, the most common barrier to moving forward is the cost associated with hiring an outside consultant to facilitate the process.
The idea that strategic planning has to cost a lot of money is a misconception.
If done right, engaging the services of a consultant will actually benefit your ministry's finances.
1. People give to a vision. Giving usually increases when you clarify your vision.
2. An effective process will identify several things that you should stop doing. Ineffective practices usually cost you money. Stop doing them and you save money.
While strategic planning will likely save you money long term, there is the reality that most small to mid-sized ministries do not budget for it annually. There is an upfront cost to strategic planning. Here are five ways to pay for it.
1. Get a donor (or 2) to cover expenses.
I have found that this is the most common method of funding a strategic planning process. Do you have someone who is outspoken about the need to grow or do things better? Have someone who has some cash? Find a person or a few people with both the means and passion for the future of your ministry. Make the ask. I’ve found the most willing donors are seasoned citizens who are forced to make withdrawals from their retirement funds and don’t need those funds to cover monthly expenses.
2. Divide the cost between two budget years.
Don’t have room in your current annual budget to pay for planning? Schedule the onsite work of your consultant to straddle two budget years. I’ve worked with ministries who operate on a January-December fiscal year to schedule my two onsite visits in the fall and spring.
3. Leadership pays the bill.
Who are the leaders in your ministry? Staff? Board of Directors? Church Elders? If your leaders feel that strategic planning is worth the effort, maybe they feel that it is worth their treasure as well. Have your leadership commit to paying for the process and “pass the hat.” An added benefit to this approach is that it helps underscore the significance of strategic planning. There is power in being able to communicate to your community that your leadership is so committed to the future of your ministry that they are paying for it!
4. Get a grant.
Not as easy as it used to be. There are foundations and denominations that will fund planning efforts. The term ‘revitalization’ is trendy in the church world now. Make strategic planning your revitalization effort and maybe your denomination or a local foundation will pitch in.
5. Split the cost.
Find another ministry in your area who is thinking about strategic planning. Hire the same consultant and look for ways to split the costs. At a minimum, you can save on travel expenses. Many consultants are willing to facilitate two ministries in the same facility on the same day.
The bottom line in funding a strategic planning process is that in the long run, it should save you money. There are practical ways to pay the upfront cost without wrecking your budget.
You probably know that your church should have a mission.
Perhaps you have a sentence on your website or hanging on a wall that you call your mission statement. The thought that a church should have a clearly defined mission is not new. The problem is that most churches do it wrong.
Your mission should be WHY your church exists.
One of the best books I read in the last year was Start With Why, by Simon Sinek. One of my key takeaways was that it is wrong to talk about vision and strategy before you answer the WHY? question. You’ve got to nail this down.
Take a look at some examples…
To see those who are far from God raised to life in Christ.
Elevation Church Matthews, NC
To Lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ.
LifeChurch Edmund, OK
To build a community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.
The Church of the Resurrection Leawood, KS
Does your church have a compelling mission?
Is it memorable?
If I surveyed your membership, how many people would know and understand your mission?
When I work with churches to Strategically Plan their future, I always start with the WHY.
I published a short book on clarifying the mission of your ministry. It's a practical guide for church leaders to develop or reaffirm their mission and make it memorable for your community.
A clearly defined mission is essential to the health and growth of your church. You need a clear sense of mission to do ministry effectively in our rapidly changing culture. Mission unifies. Mission energizes. Mission engages. Mission clarifies.