Church Practice pt.2:
Assessment & Strategy
“Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” Proverbs 29:18
How do we begin to set our sights on new ventures and capture victories in our church? Or perhaps how do we recapture the vigor and passion our church once had is a better question? All too often organic ministry takes shape, spontaneous growth occurs and we just don’t know what to do next. We say that we want more people coming to church but when they start coming many of us don’t know what to do with them. Sure some might say, “well we love them.” And that may be so, but without purpose behind ministry we run the risk of losing these new people because there is just nothing that keeps them coming back. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to convict and save, but it’s the church’s responsibility to love them and accept them into the family. Without acceptance and then provided roles and duties a new member may begin to feel like the third wheel, unwanted and might be eyeing the exit sign.
Questions to consider:
What is your Church’s Mission & Vision?
Do you have these written down?
Have you shared them with your congregation?
Are they posted in a prominent place within your church so that all can see them?
If your answers to these questions is “I don’t know” and “No”, then dare I say that perhaps it’s time to get started on articulating what it is your church wishes to accomplish, what your vision needs to be and how your mission might be accomplished.
How Do We Get Started?
Scripture tells us that people without vision will perish.
So perhaps the very first thing you ought to do is pray. This could be done individually at first then corporately with your core group of leaders. But prayer is our direct connection with the one who makes all things possible and the only source of our true power and wisdom in this process. Vision casting cannot effectively take place within the church without first inviting God’s Holy presence to partake in the planning process. Prayer should not be taken for granted or taken lightly. Without His wisdom and direction our Mission and vision for our church will not succeed.
2) Look Back:
I don’t say this so that we will remain there in our past, but rather we might begin to identify exactly why something became successful in your church in the first place. You might be surprised as to why a program or ministry flourished or grew. Was it because of the leadership present at the time? Was it because of the community dynamics?
The whole reason to look back at past victories is twofold. The first reason is because we need to recognize that God was present in the past and He is here in our present planning. He has granted us these moments of refinement and we ought to celebrate them! So we recognize that God was involved in the victories. The second reason we look back is to identify our victories which will motivate us and cause us to believe that these victories are still possible in this present day! Be mindful though, that what worked in the past might not work in the present. This is simply an exercise to identify the victories and the successes so that we can possibly recapture or claim new victories through the planning process.
3) Know Your Community!
There are any number of statistical web sites out there that can give you vital information regarding the demographics of your community. Not only will they provide you with the breakdown of ethnic groupings but also median age, education, house hold incomes, and even a statistic of single parents in your neighborhoods. This information is crucial to recognizing who is living in your church’s radius. When we can analyze this data we can begin to identify what our mission to our community should be. For example if there is a high percentage of single parents living in your community you might begin to use this information to craft applicable ministries to meet the needs of single parents. It is important that as you begin to craft your church’s mission and vision that you have a good understanding of your community and that of its needs.
4) Know Your Church
This isn’t to mean that you are limited to just the people in your church, but rather to be wise and know who makes up your church and its current ministries. When you know your church, its specific dynamic, good & bad, generational demographics, educational demographics, then you will begin to see what their needs are also. From this study you will then also be able to draw from those resources to better help you devise your strategies as you move forward. With your Core group of leaders you can identify church members who could be utilized in any number of ministries and that of their potential. It is important to know what you already have and who will support your church’s mission and vision.
5) S.W.O.T. Analysis
There are other means of analyzing and planning your mission & vision, but this is one tool that I have used and have seen success from. In your Core group, set aside an hour or two to sit down and do a S.W.O.T. analysis of your church while having your community demographics information at hand. What is S.W.O.T.? It is a tool to identify you Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats. Here is a web link to read up further on this vital tool: http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/sub_section_main_1049.aspx
As you get together have some big poster board paper handy, or a couple of dry erase boards available to that you can discuss and identify your church’s strengths and weaknesses, its opportunities and threats. Write them down as you share, post them on the wall so you begin to see the big picture as you proceed forward. When these are visible you will begin to grasp where your Mission is, what it looks like in your specific community and then you can cast your vision.
6) Identifying your Mission
There are many ways to do this, but with the information you have now already done, you can begin to see what it is God is calling your church to be and do in the community He has placed you in. But be mindful, you must not mistake your vision statement for your mission statement. These two things are not the same…they are hand in glove but the Mission statement ought to come before the Vision statement. Your mission is what you do every day, while your vision is what will take place in the future because you are living out this mission every day. Does that make sense? Mission is intrinsically who you are, while Vision is where you’d like to be because of who you are. Mission =Identity, Vision=future.
Since there are a lot of mission statement helps out there, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel here…use some of these resources to help you. Do some research! Here is a great tool to help you with your mission statement: http://www.firstthird.org/eym/EYM-Tool-2-Identifying-Your-Churchs-Culture.pdf
7) Vision Statement:
Again make sure that you have your mission statement for your specific church nailed down before tackling the vision statement. It’s like trying to build a house without the foundation. You need your mission statement to be clear before you can identify where you want to go. Vision casting might take some time; some continued prayer will be involved. But remember this is your church, your future and good things don’t come from poor planning or no planning. It will take some sweat and possibly tears to get there.
When I went to college for organizational leadership, I learned this process and it struck me how simple it can be but many times we make it out to be so complex. With your Core leaders there has to be no ego, no sugar coating, just humble servants wanting to invest in what God has given you and your church ministries. When you put your church and community under the microscope it might be painful, yet endure the uncomfortable nature of this process because great things can and will take place if you allow God to use you and your church for His purposes alone!
Feel free to send me questions or feedback if you are interested in starting this process with your church. I have a real passion for churches going through or needing to go through this planning process!