Strategic Planning Makes a Comeback

Strategic Planning

Most people aren’t “geeked” about strategic planning. I know leaders who would rather endure a week of daily six-hour staff meetings than go through strategic planning. Yet, an increasing number of church leaders are inquiring about core values or vision-casting.

The question is, why? Why the uptick in interest about strategic planning? I have some thoughts on the matter.

Programs and specialized ministries are declining in popularity.

This is creating a myriad of problems. After all, worship services are among the “ministries” with lower participation. Other programs that were counted on to attract new people – such as Sunday School and Youth Groups – have declined for decades. Leaders are hoping strategic planning can help re-energize programs and ministries.

Sustainable funding is an ever-increasing challenge for churches.

Donations and offerings are flat or falling, costs are increasing and governmental regulation tightening. All of this adds up to financial strains on congregations. When organizations are forced to make fundamental changes due to funding it’s wise to start the process with strategic planning.

Churches are looking at regional ministry.

Churches in the Western World are historically independent and self-supporting. An increasing number of congregations are uncertain about their futures. They have realized sister churches in their region are facing the same reality. More congregations are seeking ways to collaborate or partner? Strategic planning has processes to assist in such exploration.

The Millennial Generation wants to know “why.”

The youngest Millennials, the largest generation in the United States, have graduated from high school. This means Millennials are both members and leaders in your churches. If they aren’t, you want them to be. One difference between Millennials and the previous few generations is Millennials want answers to the question, “Why?”. Why does our organization exist? What makes our church important to this community? Strategic planning answers some of the deepest “why” questions in organizations.

Churches are experiencing a high rate of turnover in top leadership positions.

Between 2006 and 2013 there was a significant slowdown in movement among top leadership positions in churches. I think it was driven by the economic depression. By 2014, leadership positions were opening again. The trend continues today. I think this was also driven by the economy. Pastors are in a better position to accept calls. Lay leaders are finding more opportunities for advancement in their professions. Retirement packages are too good to turn down. Whatever the reason for the changes, new leaders want strategic planning to get everyone on the same page going forward.

Why else do you think churches are again engaging in strategic planning? Answer in the comments or shoot me an email. Addition posts in this series include:

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