Making Sense of Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning

In the same week, I had two very different conversations with Senior Pastors about strategic planning.

One said ten years had passed since his church last engaged in strategic planning. He felt the process would be a “healthy checkup” for his church.

Then, he asked me to make a strategic planning presentation to leadership, because he wasn’t real clear about the process.

The other Senior Pastor confessed he’d served the same church for more than twenty years, during which time the congregation had not gone through strategic planning. He said the church had not gone through such planning largely because he was uncomfortable explaining strategic planning to leaders.

I shared with both pastors the below five words as cues as talking points about strategic planning. Now, I’m sharing them with you, so you’ll better prepared the next time a discussion about strategic planning arises.


Strategic planning is a process that clarifies where an organization is now, identifies where it is going and creates a plan that increases the probability of safely getting there.


The strategy is the major steps or changes a church should adopt in order to get where it is going. The strategy creates an environment that gives the organization a better chance at success than it had previously.


The plan puts the strategy to work. SMART goals are set across the organization so the strategy is implemented through the congregation. The strategy creates alignment for plans.


Strategic planning initially focuses on mission, purpose and core values to identify where the church is today. Then it shifts to identifying a vision of the future so the congregation knows where it is going. The strategy gives the church the best possible opportunity at success.


Changing strategies is a risky proposition for an organization. For this reason, strategic planning includes a critical examination of the new strategy, guarding against unnecessary risk. The strategy must fit within the church’s ethical and legal boundaries. It must have a real probability of success.

These talking points are designed to help you explain strategic planning to staff and members. The next few Thursday posts will unpack an element of strategic planning.

What other key words are important to successful strategic planning? Leaving your thoughts in the comments or shoot me an email. Additional posts in this series include:

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