Leadership doesn’t gain credibility through control; rather, it gains credibility from empowering its followers. The strategy of a church is the plan it implements in order to empower its members. The strategy is the funnel through which all resources, ministries, programs, and possibilities are aligned in order to accomplish the local mission of the church community and the global vision of God.
While mission answers the question ‘what?’, strategy answers the question ‘how?’ The strategy of an intentional church community should be specific, but also remain generic enough for each ministry to tweak the strategy to effectively reach their demographic. Each ministry exists to reach a certain demographic (or tribe), so each ministry should be able to modify the strategy to effectively reach their target. For example:
- Let’s assume that the mission of our church is to ‘lead people to become fully absorbed with the Jesus life.’ Let’s also assume that decide that the way we will help people to become fully absorbed with the Jesus life is we will connect them to God (worship), to others (small groups and classes), and to purpose (volunteering and service). Under this strategy, we determine that each of our major ministries should connect people into a worship environment, a small group environment, and a service environment.
- How does the bread pantry accomplish this? Perhaps the bread pantry is absorbed into another ministry, such as the senior citizen’s ministry. This ministry becomes a service environment for a whole ministry, which allows for more resources and creativity to be available for the bread pantry…and potentially more impact is felt and more volunteer buy-in is experienced.
- How does the student ministry accomplish this? Would their worship environment be the same environment for the senior citizen ministry? Would their classes be under the same model or mold as the children’s classes?
- If one of our strategies for leading a person to become fully absorbed with the Jesus life is to connect them to God through a relevant worship environment, should we provide more than one worship environment, where each environment is geared toward a different major ‘interaction with God group?’
The process of determining a strategy which will effectively help us to realize our mission is absolutely critical to the success of the mission. An effective strategy encourages buy-in from members and prospective members. If a church community launches a new mission without having the legs of a strategy underneath it…that mission is destined to fail. A failed mission in a church culture is devastating, while a mission that is attainable is transforming.
Using Strategy To Align
Evaluating Current Ministries and Programs
Once a church has a clearly defined mission and a carefully planned strategy put together, the process of evaluating the current church culture (programs, ministries, budget, resources, staff, etc.) must begin. Every ministry leader must be brought into the conversation of the mission and strategy of the church. This process of evaluating (or questioning) the current church culture with the newly defined mission and strategy is a critical process in allowing the mission to breathe instead of be fancy words on a paper.
Adding New Ministries and Programs
It is possible that during the strategizing and evaluating process, a church will find that it needs a new ministry or a new program in order to fully accomplish its mission. When determining a strategy, the temptation is to think only in terms of the current, and not in terms of the possibility. It could be that this ministry attracts new volunteers and maximizes the church’s potential toward realizing its vision.
Dissolving Distracting Ministries and Programs
It is inevitable that a church will begin to find that it has distracting ministries or programs. A distracting ministry or program is a ministry or program which competes for the churches financial support, creative resources, and important volunteers and leaders. These ministries and programs are not inherently bad or flawed – they merely do not fit within the scope of a church’s strategy. Because it is outside the scope of a church’s strategy, it cannot help contribute toward the realization of the church’s mission, unless by accident. And because it’s contribution to the mission of the church is accidental instead of intentional, it is burdening the church from accomplishing its mission. Therefore, a ministry that finds itself burdening instead of contributing needs to be dissolves so that all possible resources can be saved for the accomplishment of the mission.