Month <span class=August 2014" src="">

Month August 2014

Bold, New Plans: Will You Take the Risk? 

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Visioneering…

You won’t go farther than you are today if you keep doing what you did yesterday.  

Whenever I travel through a major metro area, I’m surprised and amazed at the scale of what I see.

Lights stretching far into the distance, each illuminating neighborhood businesses.  Skyscrapers filled with hundreds of offices, each alive with accountants, engineers, artists, planners, and marketers.  Church spires rising up to define the skyline with tributes to great religious movements past and present.

Every building, every office, every church, every factory, every restaurant – each one of these started when someone took a risk.

Someone like you.

I’m guessing those entrepreneurs, in the beginning, didn’t have all their ducks in a row.  Where would the funding come from? Would the idea work?  Would anyone walk in the front door on opening day?  Would they have the leadership skills to navigate inevitable challenges? Would they be able to balance family, ministry and business?

And what if the idea failed? What if they put all they had on the line and . . . it didn’t work out?

Dreamers who become doers conquer their fear of the unknown.  Visioneers only become pioneers when they do the hard things. As my dad still tells me when I mutter about life’s difficulties: “Dan, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it.”

But they don’t do it.

They aren’t willing to take a risk.

You have a vision, a picture in your mind about the way the future could be.  You think about the church that could be built, the people who could be discipled, the poor who could be served, and the mission that could be accomplished.  You think of the lives that could change, the families that could be restored, the addicts who could be set free, the souls who could be introduced to Jesus for the first time.

Your vision won’t happen if you leave your ministry on auto-pilot. It won’t happen if you do what your members or staff think is safe, traditional and comfortable.  You won’t go farther than you are today if you keep doing what you did yesterday.

Perhaps you need more training, more funding, more time, or more expertise.  Perhaps you know where you’d like to go, but have no realistic way to get there.  Maybe you aren’t even sure you should be thinking about bold, new ideas right now.

Leadership Outreach was founded to help people like you face questions like that. Perhaps you are a pastor thinking that its time to take a big next step as a congregation, but you aren’t sure how to define it, or how to bring your people on board.  Perhaps you lead a non-profit, and while you believe the impact-potential is endless, you don’t  have a step-by-step plan to mobilize volunteers and inspire donors.

We’d love to help. Our team is ready to partner with you in developing and executing your strategy for growth.

Visioneering is an exciting process with many unknowns about the future. Yet, everything great begins with someone taking a risk. And a first step.

Perhaps for you, that’s today.

Next Step:

Call and speak with a Leadership Outreach strategist, to see how our services and coaching can help you turn your dream into actionable plans.

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Should Churches Have Strategic Plans?

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Should Churches Have Strategic Plans?

God should be at the center of any ministry strategic plan – after all, it is His mission. 

When Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all the nations,” and “you will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth,” did He mean for us to operate without a plan?

Certainly He has a plan, and guided by the Holy Spirit, generations of believers have taken the gospel in His Name across the globe. But today, in the 21st century, should we be doing “strategic planning” for Christian ministry work?

The Acts Model: Spontaneous or Strategic? Both!

There were many moments in the book-of-Acts era when the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit turned an important corner, opened an impossible door, or pushed the gospel into places yet unreached.  Philip spoke to the Ethiopian, and then the Spirit took him elsewhere (Acts 8:39).  Peter and John were heading to the Temple for prayers, and a “chance” encounter with a cripple led to a mass evangelistic rally (Acts 3:2).  God gave Paul a vision, instructing Him to enter Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10).

But nowhere in Acts do we see when they were told to do so, in believers “waiting around” (except anticipation of Pentecost).  Once they were empowered for their mission, they were off!  Judea, Samaria, Antioch, Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth, and eventually Rome!  These locations weren’t accidental.  The believers were praying, trusting, and then sending workers forward in faith – and forward with specific plans.

For example, note the planning involved in Paul’s journeys:

Even in the case of God’s intervention that steered Paul and his companions to Macedonia, note that they were on their way to Asia Minor.  They obviously had developed a strategy for the spread of the gospel, mapped out their journey, and began working their plans. However, they were also listening for God’s direction and redirection throughout the process.

At Leadership Outreach, we believe that churches engaged in strategic plans:

 

  • Honor the Great Commission by giving it the best of their attention, completing the task Christ left them on earth to accomplish (2 Corinthians 5:20).
  • Utilize the spiritual gifts of their membership, some of whom are to be leaders and administrators (1 Corinthians 12:4-31, Romans 12:8).
  • Follow the methodical (yet Spirit-driven) pattern the apostles established when confronted with ministry growth (Acts 6:1-7).
  • Disciple their people according to specific, well-considered plans, like Paul who said of his churches, “We want to present them perfect in their relationship with Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me” (Colossians 2:28-29).
  • Care about community needs and “non-profit” causes in the same way Paul instructed Timothy to organize and administrate the care for older widows (1 Timothy 5:3-16).

“I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles.”  (Romans 1:13)  “My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard . . . ” (Romans 16:20-22)

“I am planning to go to Spain, and when I do, I will stop off in Rome.” (Romans 16:24)

“To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along.” (Ephesians 6:21)

A frequent critique of ministries that engage in advanced planning and goal-setting is that they are using secular methodology and leaving God out of the process.  And of course, that’s not what we’re proposing in the least!

 Rather, we believe that  God should be at the center of any ministry strategic plans after all, it is His mission. 

Should a church engage in strategic planning? 

Ask yourself:

  • Would a well-defined vision help the people of our church “be of one mind” as they serve Christ together?  (Philippians 2:2)
  • Would it be helpful for us to define our guiding principles, so we don’t stray off course from our Scriptural commitment? (1 Timothy 4:15-16, 2 Timothy 2:2)
  • Would our church be stronger if each ministry department, team or committee shared the same core priorities, each aligning with our church’s overall mission? (Acts 2:42)
  • Would we more faithfully steward the gifts of those who attend our church if we were operating with a plan to maximize their impact? (1 Peter 4:10-11, Ephesians 4:11-12)
  • Would it help our staff, volunteers and members if they knew that we had prayed, considered, sought counsel together on how to solve problems and accommodate for growth? (Acts 6:2-5)
  • How would it help me as a leader to know what my next step should be? (Titus 1:5)

A coach at Leadership Outreach would be excited to pray with you about developing and executing your strategy for growth, and exploring whether or not our coaching services could benefit your ministry. Our phone number is 239-775-5323.

We’d love to be your partners on the Great Commission journey!

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Where Does Strategic Planning Begin?

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A vision for Christian strategic planning is really a vision to advance God’s Kingdom.

strategic planningDeveloping a thorough plan is not only the path of wisdom, it is also a very spiritual path – discerning God’s will through prayer and Scripture, vetting ideas through the community of believers, and then taking action based on obedient faith.

Strategic Planning Begins with God

Proverbs 19:21 explains, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

In the ultimate sense, plans are in the hands of God. He is the Chief Planner, from the seven days of creation to the construction of the Bible to the building of your church community. It was He who developed the Great Commission and has enlisted millions of us across the world to serve His eternal aims.

And though the theological questions surrounding this issue are mysterious, it seems plainly true throughout the Bible that God uses men and women.

in His plans, and He invites us to co-labor with Him in their execution. (Paul spoke of this kind of partnership with God as a part of his plan to reach the unreached in 1 Corinthians 3-4.)

Strategic Planning Begins with a Team

Gathering your church leaders to pray through, develop and then begin implementing a concrete set of goals and objectives requires the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in the first place, but secondly it requires the talents and gifts of your various leaders.

This “visionary” approach to pastoral care is like the shepherd who looks out at the hills ahead and determines where he should lead the sheep next. What dangers lie ahead? Where are the good grazing areas and water sources? How will we ultimately get back home after the journey?

If you’d like to learn more about strategic planning, and how Leadership Outreach can help you facilitate the process in your church, here’s what to do:

Questions to Consider:

  • Does your church have an active, effective plan to reach its community?
  • Are the resources of your church being best utilized to accomplish the Great Commission?
  • Do people at all levels of your church organization have a clear sense of direction, and know how their spiritual gifts fit into the broader work of the Body?
  • Have you sought God earnestly in prayer for wisdom regarding future plans?
  • Are your staff members and volunteer leaders unified around the same goals and objectives for the next 12 months?  Have you made measurable progress toward your goals in the past year?

Paul wrote to the Roman church: “Having gifts  that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;  the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).

Strategic Planning Begins with You

Pastor, if God has entrusted a flock to your care, your plan to “feed His sheep” can go far beyond sermon preparation or daily ministry to their needs.  A biblically-rooted strategic plan will allow you to effectively plan for personal discipleship, corporate worship, community outreach, global missions and compassionate care ministries.

1. Begin with prayer.  “Lord, would it please You if I pursued the development of a strategic plan for Your church that is under my care?”

2. Recognize God’s timing and Lordship. As James wrote: “…you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:14-15).

3. Give us a call, and one of our strategists can walk you through our process, to see if Leadership Outreach is a good fit for you.  Our phone number is 239-775-5323

 Incoming Search Terms: strategic planning, organization process, nonprofit organization strategic planning, strategist, nonprofit organization strategist, nonprofit organization strategy

Turning Your Bright Ideas into Shining Successes

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Convert Your Strategy Into Action PlansYou know the feeling, Pastor. 

At least I do.

You’ve cast a bold vision in front of your congregation and verbally committed to a project that would change lives!  But then, in the hustle of daily responsibility, and the grind of ordinary human weakness, those good intentions go unfulfilled. People who were nodding in excited agreement at the new ministry prospect went back to their own priorities, never giving another thought to yours.

The plan doesn’t advance past “go” and you’re called to account a few months later: “Pastor, whatever happened to….?”  Or, “So, who is working on…?”

Oops. Your bright idea isn’t looking so bright anymore.

Your heart was right, your vision was clear. You may have even laid down a good set of strategies to accomplish the objective.

But in the end, crickets.  And, honestly, embarrassment.

The failure was in the conversion of strategy to action plans.

Strategy talks about how an objective gets completed, action plans assign specific responsibilities and prescribe detailed steps.

What is step one and who will take it?  When?  How much will step one cost, and where is that money coming from?

What is step two, and who is responsible for that? 

Who will manage the calendar dates involved in step three?  What date will the budget for it be approved?

An action plan turns a bright idea into a concrete to-do list.

As a pastor, I didn’t lack for vision, or even for strategy. I had a pretty strong sense of what should be done, what would probably “work,” and even the right pathway to get there.  But I struggled a lot when it came to implementation, delegation, assignment, and (MOSTLY) accountability.

I would be lamenting the lack of “buy-in” or volunteerism from people, when really I should have been making a spreadsheet.  My people weren’t unwilling, they were just weren’t directed.  And whose fault was that?

You Can Start Today

I don’t recommend the strategic planning process to churches because outside coaches have all the right ideas.  They probably don’t.  YOU probably do, at least as far as how ministry should work in your context.  But a good coach can help you turn those good ideas into specific actionable plans, the kind that get measured, and the kind that get done.

So, as self-serving illustration, I’ll set it up like this:

STRATEGY: Utilize the services of a church consulting group to help develop growth strategies

ACTION PLAN

1. Fill out the interest form on our homepage.

2. Set a date to meet with a strategist from Leadership Outreach.

3. Discuss the need for organization-wide strategic planning at your next leadership meeting.

Why I Started Leadership Outreach

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“Your mission is too important to attempt without a plan.”

Simply put, something’s got to change. The statistics are scary. Churches are folding. Pastors are quitting. Non-profits are failing. You’ve read the stats. But what can we do? It’s time we re-think what we are doing. It’s time we reevaluate our methods and programs. It’s time we renew our commitment to the gospel. It’s time for a change.

Perhaps I’m a bit unusual, but change excites me. I love to see, hear, or read about people, organizations, or churches that have overcome incredible odds to reach their mission or fulfill their purpose. It inspires me. Change becomes necessary when we begin to lose momentum, when we acquiesce to status quo, when we encounter a major obstacle or when our environment changes around us despite what we want.

We all face obstacles that stand in the way of our progress…whether it’s a financial hurdle, a physical ailment, or the baggage from a bad decision in the past.

Non-profit organizations and churches, just like people, must find ways to move toward their desired future while overcoming the obstacles before them… pushing forward their unique calling and purpose. They need to change to make this happen.

Having been a pastor for over twenty years, I know the frustration of trying to decide what is the next “right” step for our organization. In a world where the stakes are high (dealing with the eternal souls of people), it is extremely important that the leaders of the organization make wise choices.

From my experience, too many decisions are made “by the seat of the pants.” Major initiatives are undertaken without the proper data to support them. Often times, programs are started because a successful church somewhere is doing it…therefore, it must be the key to growth and success.

When I was a senior pastor one of our mottos was, “Go to other churches and steal their stuff.” Then Craig Groeschel at lifechurch.tv started giving it away free…we didn’t even have to steal it! Here’s a potential problem with this mentality: by continually adding more “stuff” to our list of activities we can find ourselves bogged down, understaffed, underfunded, and too diffused to powerfully execute our mission. There may be plenty of activity but where are the results?

It is important to ask, “As a church or non-profit, are we doing what GOD CALLEDUS to do?” This is where the value of strategic planning comes in.

Leadership Outreach was started to help church and non-profit leaders develop and execute strategies for growth. My desire is for our consultants to come alongside faith-based organizations and help them discover God’s unique vision for their ministry and then develop a strategy to accomplish that vision. Through facilitated discussions we seek to discover the uniqueness of an organization and the best strategies for achieving its potential.

A church that tries to do it all, be everything to everybody, reach every man, woman, and child, runs the risk of dying from exhaustion…exhausted people, exhausted resources, and exhausted funds. One church simply can’t do it all. One powerful result of strategic planning is determining what our church or NPO will NOT do.

Successfully leading an organization through change is difficult…especially if the people do not yet realize the need for change. That is why it is so important to define reality before attempting a big initiative or a change in direction. Are the people ready for change? Is there data (demographic analysis, survey results, health assessments, etc.) that support a need for change? Change for the sake of change can be disastrous.

Wise leaders do their homework and prepare their staff and people for the process of discovering God’s next steps for the organization. This is where Leadership Outreach consultants become so helpful to churches and NPO’s. Our teams of facilitators work with your people to discover God’s plan for your ministry and then establish the framework for seeing that vision accomplished.

If your church, ministry, or non-profit organization is in need of change, call Leadership Outreach today to discuss how our team of trained strategists can assist you in developing your unique, God-ordained strategic plan.