In the twenty first century many of the churches that have grown from one level of their ministries to a significant point have plateau and now on a decline. Recently many churches are facing dwindling church attendance, funds, congregation commitment, evangelism results, worship output and stewardship. In many occasions church revival program/s has been called to turn situations around but this had never produced the most effective and desirable results. The organizational system needs revival more than the people as people naturally flow in functional system.
The worldviews, ever changing society, poor communication, poor decision making process and technology have cut some churches unprepared thereby snatching their members away and reducing church output in many ways. Therefore, for the church to effectively mobilize her members and resources to achieve enduring objectives require a strategic thinking and planning.
Strategic Planning is a continuous alignment of organizational decisions, objectives and priorities to move from point A to B in a coordinated and collaborative manner. Strategic Planning is the organizational decisions and actions that influence the cause and effects in order to lead towards the most desirable consequences and outcomes. It is the process by which an organization including the church envisions its future from the present and develops plans, polices and approaches to achieve that future in collaboration with all stakeholders. Therefore, for the church to determine where it is going, it needs to know faithfully where it is at present, where it wants to go and how it will get there; it needs to evaluate its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats rationally. They are ‘church community’ orientated. Aubery Malphurs said “Strategic planning is the fourfold process that a point leader, such as a pastor, works through regularly with a team of leaders to envision or reenvision and revitalize his church by developing a biblical mission and a compelling vision, discovering its core values, and crafting a strategy that implements a unique, authentic church model.”
In other words, the church leaders and pastors should develop a unique decision making and implementation strategies to influence the cause and effects for the most desirable consequences and outcomes of their church model. This biblical mission, vision, and core value should be adopted in a coordinated process within a timebox.
BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF STRATEGIC PLANNING
Strategic Planning circles around now and the future of the church; it might sound unbiblical and more of business management but without it the church may not have position and reposition herself to meet today’s world challenges. Note Strategic Planning is biblical though not mentioned and it can be found in the pages of the Old and New Testament of the bible but it all depends on one’s perception and interpretation. They are as follows:
1. Jethro advice to Moses (Exodus. 18: 21-22)
2. Joshua strategic leadership after the death of Moses (Joshua. 6: 1-7, 8: 3-23, 10: 6-9)
3. Nehemiah strategic thought and action in Jerusalem wall reconstruction project (Nehemiah chapter 3–6)
4. Jesus Christ directives about geographical direction of mission (Acts. 1: 8)
5. Paul strategic advice to the Ephesian church (Ephesians 5: 15-16)
6. Apostles delegation of duties (Acts 6: 1-7)
7. Joseph’s strategic planning and management of Egypt’s economy (Genesis 41; 42; 43)
Remember that all the strategic thinking, actions and planning are perfected by God and only God by the power of the Holy Spirit, Proverbs 21: 31 and John 15: 5.
CHURCH STRATEGIC ROADMAP
Short Term Objectives
The church’s mission signifies the fundamental reason why the church exists and each church must define why it came to being in a short statement. The church’s vision is what the church will look like or where it will be in a given space of time through grace. The vision should encourage people to be part of the church and be committed. The core values of the church indicate a guide or how the church will be together as they pursue their mission and vision. The values need to be respected by the church and its leadership. The strategic plan is how and steps to accomplish the biblical mission and vision of the church in order to reach the desired future to the glory of God. While the short term objectives focuses on monthly or annual goals and deliverables of the church as they pursue the future. This church strategic roadmap is evolving as the church inspect and adapt to her plan with the incorporation of changes on the way as they unfold.
REASONS FOR CHURCH STRATEGIC PLANNING
1. It helps the church to discover and rediscover her strengths and weaknesses within and outside thereby maximizing and minimizing them for a healthy church.
2. It allows for open communication, transparency and trust in the church among leadership and members.
3. It helps the church to articulate her spiritual core values and stick to them.
4. It allows the church to develop efficient disciple mobilization process and community relation to fulfill the great commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5. It is a tool for effective and efficient decision making for church leadership in delivering value to God and humanity through regular evaluation and improvement of the church processes.
The relevance of strategic planning in the church cannot be overemphasized as many churches are now operating on ‘cut and paste’ leadership approach. They try to model their church to look like another church somewhere. Every church is unique in nature based on their mission, vision and core values in fulfilling God’s mandate. Churches have grown from a small size church to a mega church due to their strategic thinking, planning and management; plus well informed strategic leadership.
Therefore, as a leader is time to stop blaming but re-engineer and reorganize yourself and the church strategically to achieve results for God. Remember, without strategic thinking and planning the church of God and the Gospel will not get to you and your place today. The missionaries operate on strategic planning. God is a strategic thinker and planner; Bible says “as He is so are we in this world” 1 John 4: 17.
By Dr. Nguzo. C Uche