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Strategic Planning for Congregations

This collection provides books and articles to support congregations through the strategic planning process.


3 Resources
Holy Conversations: Strategic Planning as a Spiritual Practice for Congregations
This book of practical tools turns strategic planning into "holy conversations" guided by...
Strategic Planning
This two-page guide examines what to consider when beginning the strategic planning process,...
Strategic Planning in Congregations
This practical article shares the insights of six congregations who hired strategic planning...


Tim Shapiro

Tim Shapiro is the Indianapolis Center’s president. He began serving the Center in 2003 after 18 years in pastoral ministry. For 14 years, Tim served Westminster Presbyterian Church in Xenia, Ohio. Prior to his pastorate at Westminster, he was pastor of Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Logansport, Indiana. He holds degrees from Purdue University and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Tim’s interest in how congregations learn to do new things is represented in his book How Your Congregation LearnsAfter his extensive work on the Center’s Sacred Space initiative, Tim co-authored the book Holy Places: Matching Sacred Space with Mission and MessageHe has also authored several articles, including Applying Positive Deviance and The Congregation of Theological Coherence.

Church Strategy

When it comes to congregations today, there are a lot of challenges that have to be addressed. Perhaps one element of reality is to consider that technology has changed drastically during the past few years. While a lot of these technological changes can be positive in the religious group context, they might also serve as a distraction. Therefore, congregations which are looking to survive in the modern era may have to make sure that they have a strong strategy in place for their congregation’s mission and purpose. For example, a lot of churches out there can be seen looking for a 5 year strategic plan in order to make everything a little bit easier.

Putting together church strategic plans can go a long way toward helping a congregation reach out to people who may not otherwise turn to them. When religious leaders are able to plan ahead of time, they can put a strong strategy in place, which may then enable them to better reach out to people who need them.

For all of these reasons, it can be good for religious leaders to have a strong strategy in place. Furthermore, it might be a good idea for religious leaders to return to this strategy on a regular basis, to see how it is working. Church leadership groups might also consider thinking about how well they are adhering to the strategy, and how well the strategy itself is working. With a strong strategy in place, religious organizations will then more likely be able to survive in the modern era, providing their resources to individuals and families who need them most.

Simple Church Strategy

When it comes to developing a simple church strategy, this is not something which may not have to be overly complex. In fact, a lot of people can often tend to believe that a strategic plan for an organization, including a congregation, has to be something that has a lot of charts, spreadsheets, and presentations - but in all likelihood, this does simply not have to be the case. For example, a simple church strategy might include a charge strategic plan doc, which could be something that is only a one page ministry plan. This alone would possibly be enough for everyone to get started. For those who are looking to develop a simple church strategy, it can be a good idea to start with a simple mission statement at the top level. It could also be helpful to display this mission statement somewhere in the building. That way, people will be more able to understand what is guiding the group leaders as they make their decisions.

Once there is a mission statement in place, it might then become possible to put together the rest of the strategy. For instance, this mission statement might be used to guide the types of outreach programs that the congregation engages in. Of course, one of the key jobs of the group may be the act of helping those who are less fortunate, which might be accomplished by making sure that there are plenty of outreach events and programs available that take place in the local community. The congregation might want to think carefully about how it is going to spend its time and resources.

In addition, this strategy might dictate how the group is going to go about reaching out to other people and bringing them into the congregation. For example, this strategy might include information regarding social media. Even though a lot of religious leaders might be hesitant to use technology, social media can very well prove to be one of the most powerful resources available out there today. It can be good for religious groups to take advantage of this resource, as it can act as a megaphone, magnifying the impact they can have on the community. It might also prove to be a good idea to think about how technology can play a key role in developing a strong strategy for the church.

Church Action Plan Sample

When it comes to developing an action plan for a church, a lot of religious leaders may find themselves simply not knowing where to begin. And unless they have a lot of prior experience in developing action plans for religious organizations, then this is completely understandable. Fortunately, though, they do not have to go through this alone. One of the great places to start may be with a church action plan sample. There are plenty of resources online that religious leaders can use to help figure out how they are going to put together an action plan for their congregation. For instance, it can be helpful to use a church year plan sample. That way, they can see how other religious leaders may have established a plan for their own religious organization. Then, they can build upon this in their own congregation.

It can also be helpful to use a ministry strategic plan template. Religious leaders might want to think about how they are going to go about ministering to the local community. It may prove to be somewhat difficult to figure out how to do this from scratch, however - and so, it might be a good idea to locate religious organizations that have similar numbers, when it comes to their congregation and similar goals. Then, they can take a look at how they have put their church action plan together, which can then act as a strong foundation for building the next action plan.

Ultimately, religious leaders might not necessarily have to create an action plan from scratch, as there are plenty of outside resources that can be used to provide sample plans and templates. That way, religious leaders will likely have an easier time in formulating a strategy. It can be challenging to develop a strategic plan for a church, because in a lot of ways, this can be seen as religious leaders being asked to predict the future. Fortunately, there are templates and resources that religious leaders can use in order to help make it easier for them to put a strong plan of action into place.

Church Strategic Planning Survey

When religious leaders are thinking about how they are going to put together a strategy, it can perhaps be helpful to reach out to members of the congregation, as well. When it comes to church strategic plan examples, it may be a good idea to use a church strategic planning survey, while also making sure to take some time to think about which church survey planning questions should go on this survey. From there, the next step will likely be to receive feedback from members of the congregation. What went well this year? What has to be changed in the future? By speaking to members of the congregation, religious leaders can begin to figure out where they would like to go with their upcoming plan.

Of course, religious leaders do not necessarily have to heed everything the members of the congregation have to say. On the other hand, though if there is a theme among the responses, then this could point to something that religious leaders should certainly pay attention to, as this may prove to be something that has to be addressed in order to keep the congregation intact. Religious leaders might consider sending out surveys on a regular basis. That way, they can see what other members of the congregation have to say. Then, they can bring the survey results together, speak with other members of the leadership team, and develop a plan of action.

Youth Ministry Action Plan

One of the biggest challenges that religious groups can sometimes find themselves facing today involves communicating with the younger generation. Unfortunately, there are a lot of younger individuals who might simply not pay any attention at all to the church. With that in mind, though, it might be good for religious organizations to come up with a plan for youth ministry among the congregation. A youth ministry action plan can be helpful in keeping the next generation involved, and by developing a strong youth ministry strategic plan PDF with a ministry plan template, religious organizations might be able to figure out how they are going to be able to best communicate with the next generation.

The reality is that a lot of younger individuals can tend to be focused on sports, music, video games, and other hobbies. They have short attention spans and do not pay attention to sermons easily. They may find religious sermons boring, which is one of the biggest reasons why they don't attend religious services regularly. It can be good for congregations to conduct outreach programs to members of the youth community regularly. That way, they can figure out ways to get more of them to come to these services. As long as the younger generation is involved, the congregation will be going a long way toward having a strong foundation in place for the future.

Church Strategic Planning Models

Ultimately, the goal of all of these strategies is likely to help congregations come up with a plan for the future. Fortunately, though, there are numerous additional resources available, when it comes to planning for the future of a church. For example, it can be helpful to look at a church year plan template, the goals of a small church, and other church strategic planning models - all of which can help religious leaders figure out how they are going to want to address the future. It can be helpful to follow these models, because a lot of religious organizations can tend to be similar - and it is possible that what works for one organization may be able to work for another religious organization as well.

Of course, religious leaders do not exactly have to copy these plans to a “t”, either. Instead, it can be good for religious leaders to take a look at these plans and use them as a foundation for the plan that they will then set up for their specific religious group. By taking the opportunity to use these resources, meet with members of the leadership team, figure out how these templates can be altered to meet the needs of their specific congregation, and taking the time to put a firm strategy in place, religious leaders may very well find that it will now become much easier for them to meet their future goals.

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