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The First Bloom of Our Strategic Plan

September 26th 2007 1 comment so far  

Have you ever been asked, “How did you and your spouse meet?” What about the common question, “How did you decide to enter your career? What drew you to your chosen field of work?” Most of us have been asked similar things. We seem to appreciate knowing the roots of things that are important. If you are curious about our recent strategic thinking, here’s the root of our process.

Our strategic planning at Stonebriar began five months ago as we evaluated whether we have a straightforward process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. None of us can force another person to grow spiritually. Only God produces growth. Yet wise leaders create environments in which the Holy Spirit causes life change to occur. In that sense, church leaders become skillful engineers and builders. So a number of pastors and directors from Stonebriar retreated to Pine Cove Conference Center in Tyler in order to think aloud together. We asked ourselves, “Have we created a ministry that is simple, clear, and straightforward for people?”

Each of us completed a short survey. As we compared notes, the results exploded in front of us. With absolute certainty, we knew that we needed to hone a clear and simple church strategy. Thus, the process of strategic planning at Stonebriar was born. We were committed to creating a new plan””nothing less than the momentum of the church was at stake.

If you are curious about the survey, I’m including it here (at least, I’m including it if our wonderful blog editors feel we have the space for it). Walk yourself through it. Think prayerfully and honestly as you evaluate each statement. Do you answer yes or no to each statement? I hope you feel the same conviction that we can do better, just as we cinched up our belts for future work. The credit for the survey goes to Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger, from their insightful book, Simple Church (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006). Have fun with it.

    1. We have a clearly defined process for moving a person from salvation to spiritual maturity to significant ministry.

2. Our process is easy to communicate.

3. Our congregation is easily and often reminded of our ministry mission and process by verbal stories, reminders, and life examples.

4. Our congregation is easily reminded of our ministry mission and process through visual images and illustrations.

5. We have a system in place to evaluate if people are progressing through our process of transformation.

6. Leaders discuss the ministry process on many occasions, encouraging each other and evaluating our commitment to the process.

7. Our church members have a clear understanding of our ministry process.

8. We have placed our programs along our strategic process.

9. Our programs are sequential, based on our strategic process.

10. We are intentional about moving people from one program to another.

11. After joining the church, the next step for someone in the spiritual transformation process is clear.

12. We have a class or group to move new people into the life of the church.

13. We recruit volunteers and leaders who are committed to our strategic process.

14. Our staff and leaders are held accountable for how the church process is implemented in their respective areas.

15. While the styles and methods vary in different ministry departments (such as children and youth), the process is the same.

16. Our mission and process are the unifying factors that keep all of our leaders focused.

17. Before we begin a new ministry or group, we ensure that it fits within our mission and process.

18. We eliminate programs that do not fit in our process, even if they are good.

19. Our special one-time events are related to the mission and process.

Published by: Paul Utnage



    The Real Dude October 26th at 3:00 pm  

    I think it is excellent that you are fostering an environment that isn’t afraid to ask questions. I ask alot of questions…and rarely find the answers within myself. My wife and I were recruited and have served and been part of Stonebriar (Coffee House) for about two years, but haven’t developed any deep relationships with anyone. I have heard some good teaching and some not so good (relevant). We are not here because of Chuck…although he is a gifted orator and knowledgeable of the Word and has my respect…and he is very funny!

    I personally would like to see a strategic plan that does not contain much of the ambiguous rhetoric known only to “Christian insiders”. Why not use simple measurable goal statements like “we want to show (teach) people how to be gentle, kind, loving, patient, peaceful, good, faithful and self-controlled”? (Galations 5:22) OR “We want to show (teach) people the power of giving to others.” OR “We want to make sure that no member of our congregation is living without their basic needs for food, shelter and clothing.” (Acts 2:45)

    I pray you won’t be afraid to rock the boat! I attended a worship service at Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco a couple of weeks ago and saw some things that might be worth sending a staff member to report on. It was the most relevant, practical and refreshing congregation I have seen in years.

    Peace and Prayers to you!

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