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Strategic Planning for Churches, Part 2—Determining the Vision behind Your Programs

Jan 18, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Strategic Planning for Churches

Last week, I wrote about the first step of stategic planning for churchesimplementing a program review process at your church. With that step in hand, you can now set the future in motion through visioning.

For visioning, start with a blank page and answer these questions.

  • What would you like to accomplish in the new year?
  • Who should be involved in the visioning?
  • What programs will be decided upon?

What’s the vision for your programs?

Just as your review was based on your congregation’s mission, visioning will also be based on your congregation's mission. The visioning for your congregation's programs should be realistic, relevant, and related to the future.

Keep your head in the future. Think about what the congregation’s future environment will be. Don’t dwell on the crises and to lose sight of your mission. You need to move forward. Your vision should be ambitious, not one of maintaining the status quo.

Involve Your Community

This is first for a reason. Visioning really is not all about your congregation. Don’t just look internally. Look outside to your community. Look outside to the needs of others. Become engaged with your community and seek out their vision so that you can share what your church has to offer. This way, you can better share Jesus Christ with them! After all, isn’t this really why you and your congregation are placed here?

Involve Your Congregation’s Members

You will want to involve your congregation’s members. Their involvement creates meaning and generates excitement and a sense of belonging for them. This is not just a time to have your membership approve your congregation’s budget. This is a time to involve your members in what should be planned for in the budget. It’s a time to increase their overall committment in working toward your mission.

Involve Your Congregation’s Employees

Congregation employees should be involved as well. Vision planning with them creates meaning in their lives and for their work. They can see how and what they do to contribute to your mission. No worker is insignificant to your mission. Each is an integral part of your mission. Each one contributes in their special way. They work the day to day activities needed to carry out your programs.

Involve Your Congregation’s Leadership

Lastly, and intentionally so, brainstorm with church leaders. You do need to involve the leaders who have a major impact on the congregation, or who can be impacted by it. You need their “buy-in” to make the programs from last year that, from your prior analysis, were successful in your congregation's overall mission.

Decision Time

So now you hopefully have quite a list of exciting programs you would like to have! Congratulations! But reality tells us that you canot do it all. Resources are not unlimited.

Your leaders can take over the next steps. Determine the functions required for each program and all of the resources needed. This includes, among other items, staffing, venues, and dollars needed to effectively carry out your programs. Effectively is a key word. As effectively is defined: “adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.”

Try not to make emotional decisions or decisions that were based upon past circumstances. You are moving forward with your congregation, based upon its mission.

Then after you have all the information, prayerfully consider which programs will carry you through to the vision of your congregation’s mission in the future.



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Ann Ciaccio

Written by Ann Ciaccio

Ann Ciaccio is the Communications Assistant for the LCMS Northern Illinois District. She graduated from Northern Illinois University, where she studied Marketing and is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Batavia, Illinois. Ann enjoys the challenge of using her marketing skills as a tool to help carry out the mission and ministry of the Northern Illinois District. She is married and has two daughters, a junior in high school and a freshman in college. Her motto: “dark chocolate works.”

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