Ministry Action Planning, Part 1

Strategic planning and leading all of our people and teams in the right and same direction is critical for momentum and success. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been using a process we call “Ministry Action Planning” to hone and clarify what God is calling us to do over the next 12-18 months and how we’re going to do it. This is the 1st of a 3-part series on our ministry action planning model. Here’s what I’ll address in this 3-part series:

Part 1 – Our “macro” process from vision to strategy to execution

Part 2 – The actual Ministry Action Plan template

Part 3 – The process of how each team member presents their Ministry Action Plan and the year long follow up process

Our Process from Vision to Strategy to Execution

Here’s a snapshot and timeline of how we do team and vision/strategy planning with a calendar of our planning cycle during the year (our ministry year runs September to August):

  • November – Elder retreat to determine vision points for the following ministry year. For example, in November 2011, we’re thinking at the 30,000 ft. level for the 2012-13 ministry year and beyond).  We’re continually re-evaluating and re-calibrating our vision. We’re determining the big things that we see, hear, and discern God calling us to do. Before this retreat, we’re hearing from Jesus, from our leaders, from our people, and from our community on where Jesus is calling us to go, truly for His glory, for our good, and for the good of our world.
  • January – The Ministry Management Team (our senior staff team) goes on a retreat and takes the elder team’s vision points and begins to put some flesh on the bones. The team begins to hone in what this looks like in terms of strategy and goals for the following year’s ministry action planning process. The goal is to take the 30,000 ft. vision and descend to 20,000 ft. We typically come out of this retreat with 3-5 major “headline/thematic” goals for the year that we’ll take to our staff team.
  • March – The Pastor/Director team goes on a retreat, taking the 30,000 ft. vision points for the following year and the 20,000 ft. strategy and begins to talk about how it specifically impacts their ministry areas and how we’ll all share in the big goals together. We call it the 10,000 ft. level. Each ministry leader begins to see how their ministry can and will execute on the big 3-5 goals. Necessary adjustments and tweaks to the strategy are happening here. And feedback is going “up and down” the leadership channels.
  • May – After the Pastor/Director team retreat, the pastors and directors take everything that we’ve collaboratively done together to their ministry teams (which includes their lay leaders) and begin to develop specific, concrete ministry plans (with metrics, timelines, teams, people, budget, etc) for the next ministry year. In Part 2, I’ll show you our Ministry Action Plan Template. In the middle of May, each pastor and director on our staff brings that “collaborative” ministry action plan and presents it to the Ministry Management Team for the final “thumbs up.” More on this in Part 3.  It’s a collaborative process where we speak into each others plans, making sure that we’re all moving in the right direction together.

We’ve discovered that this process helps all of our teams and plans point in the same direction. Instead of building silos and fiefdoms, we’re concentrating on moving towards the same goals. It also helps us defeat a “silo” mentality. These goals become our “thematic goals” for the year (to use Patrick Lencioni’s term in Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars).

How does your team do “master, strategic” planning? What would you add to improve this model?


2 Replies to “Ministry Action Planning, Part 1”

  1. Thank you for this post. It is very helpful to see the integration path you are using to move from 30,000 feet to the street. I will look forward to parts 2 & 3.
    Do you see any correlation between the size of the church and the effectiveness of the process? Is it possible to compress the path if the church is smaller?

    1. thanks steve. i do see a correlation between church size and the process. it needs to be adapted for the different layers and levels of teams within a church organization. so it might only have 1 or 2 steps vs. 3-4 steps. one of our church planters is taking this process with them, but they will only have a core team step and a ministry leader step (2 steps vs. 4) but the purpose of the process remains… think intentionally about where God is leading your church and then move strategically towards execution. parts 2 and 3 will help with the actual template and the steps throughout the year to ensure that we’re staying on target and changing when/as the Spirit leads. let me know if i can help any converge northwest leaders with this planning process in their specific environments.

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