8 Obstacles to Executing Your Church’s Strategy

If your staff and volunteers don’t know your church’s strategy, they invent their own.

Many times, this is not the fault of the volunteers but a failure on the part of senior leadership. I recently reviewed an article form Havard Business Review entitled, “How Hierarchy can Hurt Strategy Execution.” This post is an adaptation of that article reframed for ministry. While the interrelated challenges of these obstacles make it hard to put in a ranking, I have attempted to do so in terms of linear progression. Also, there are many ways to define strategy. The one I use is “the process of picture that shows how you accomplish the mission on the broadest level.”

#1 Too focused on short-term results and tactics. Sunday’s a comin’. Enough said.

#2 Not taking time to develop a clear, coherent strategy. Because of the crowd fixation on the weekend worship event, most leadership teams never slow down enough to have the strategic conversation. This ultimately hinders forward progress in disciple-making and subversively reinforces a shadow mission, “to get as many people through the doors on Sunday.”

#3 Poor communication of strategy. If you do have a strategy, you can’t communicate it too much. The litmus test is getting the top 25 people in your leadership together and ask them to draw a picture that shows how you accomplish the mission. If they are not drawing the same picture, your not communicating enough.

#4 Lack of meaning for the front-line volunteers and their roles. Once it’s clear and being communicated, it must be translated to the front line. It can’t live only in the world of “thinkers,” but must be grasped, and joyfully so, by the “doers.”

#5 Departmental silos and ministry segments with competing agendas. One of the greatest barriers is not individuals but the momentum of church systems stuff from org charts, to decision-making structures. In church, the strategy first splinters to become meaningless in the children, student and worship “departments” which typically focus 100% of their attention on their unique short-term needs.

#6 Inconsistent or indecisive actions from senior leaders with regarding strategy. Once you set the course, you must lead the way. Strategy will set priorities and your people will quickly notice, from small daily actions, when the two disconnect.

#7 No follow-through on strategy with measurement, accountability, or celebration. Strategy won’t become meaningful without it becoming a cultural reality- something that shapes new thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.

#8 Resistance to change. Leading with a strategy will always require some change. Some people will catch it painfully slow, and others will never see the light.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

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