This past week in our bi-annual all staff meeting Adam, our senior pastor, said something that coalesced a reoccurring thought I’d had for a while. He mentioned a list of large projects our church had either completed, or moved from the idea stage to a living process. Then he suggested that to do this repeatedly, and continually succeed, you have to go through a strategic planning stage. That’s a simple statement right? So now – everybody go do that and succeed much more often …. If only it were that easy.

I’m sure that statement is in a thousand books and repeated by even more people, but the reason I’m blogging about it today is that it seems to be one of those statements where the absorption and understanding of it are worlds apart from the action and ability to perform it. Why is that? Is it simply a factor of the human condition, or is a skill that can be learned and honed? I would lean toward the latter.

Pastor Andrzej from
Katowice, Poland

The idea that strategic planning is a critical ingredient of any vision to reality project is at first too simple to be so profound. One of the questions I have been asked on multiple occasions, after people learn I work at Church of the Resurrection, is “Why do you think Resurrection has been so successful?” The last time I was asked this it was from pastor Andrzej while I was visiting him in Katowice, Poland. Pastor Andrzej has been a United Methodist pastor for more than 25 years and is currently positioned in a thriving church with a congregation more than 100 strong. To put this in perspective, the United Methodist presence in all of Poland is less than 4,500 people.
Pastor Andrzej, spoken in my poor English as “ahhn-jay,” is a person who comes off calm and composed, but with waters just underneath the surface that are roaring to bring God’s Word to the non religious.

Up until now, my answer to the above question has been these things, in short: One is leading with prayer. Another is effective leadership, and the last is an uncommon hive of people who possess a drive to do everything with excellence. These are still accurate, but what I may now add to those is effective strategic planning.

I think if there were a great suggestion for pastors striving for success in ministry, it would be to educate yourself in strategic planning. When Adam spoke about this at our all staff meeting, Andrzej came back to my memory. He and I had discussed the importance of prayer, and asking for God’s guidance. No one should underestimate this, but God rarely lifts those of us up who are sitting back waiting for Him to take the wheel and drive.

It made me wonder what programs or resources we have set up for our local pastors, as well as our International pastors. I couldn’t find much searching through Google, though it may have been the keywords I was using. My co-worker, Chuck, recommended Effective Church Leadership by Kennon L. Callahan.

Would anyone else who has read this recommend it? Does anyone know of other resources out there that focus on strategic planning in the church?