Do You Have a Strategic Operating Plan?

About a year ago, I wrote about one of the key reasons churches are stuck — they aren’t minding the gap. The gap is the space between a church’s vision and all of the ministry activity that’s taking place. In many, many churches, they’ve clarified the vision. Everyone can quote it word-for-word. And, lots of ministry is taking place. The problem is that a gap exists between the vision and all the ministry activity.

That gap is the strategy and systems. If the leadership hasn’t established a strategy and an operating plan (the systems) to accomplish that strategy, a gap exists. Visually, it looks like this:

Vision + [Strategies & Systems] + Execution = Results

Without a strategic operating plan, churches end up doing what churches have always done, but they’re hoping (and praying) for different results. Their vision may be distinct, but people have no idea what they’re supposed to do to accomplish the vision. Because of that, people expect the church to do what all churches have always done. (That defines religion.) Of course, the only way to get different results is to embrace different strategies and systems.

Unfortunately, churches continue to try to get unstuck without minding the gap. It won’t work. As I’ve shared before, strategies and systems without vision will keep people busy. Vision without strategies and systems will keep people guessing.

In the future, I’ll write more about my experiences and learnings. In the mean time, I challenge you to honestly consider this question: Do we have a strategic operating plan?

If not, you may need to mind the gap so that your church does not get stuck.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of TonyMorganLive.com. He’s a consultant, leadership coach and writer who helps churches get unstuck and have a bigger impact. More important, he has a passion for people. He’s all about helping people meet Jesus and take steps in their faith. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). With Tim Stevens, Tony has co-authored Simply Strategic Stuff, Simply Strategic Volunteers and Simply Strategic Growth – each of which offers valuable, practical solutions for different aspects of church ministry. His book, Killing Cockroaches (B&H Publishing) challenges leaders to focus on the priorities in life and ministry. His most recent books on leadership and ministry strategy are available on Kindle. Tony has also written several articles on staffing, technology, strategic planning and leadership published by organizations like Outreach Magazine, Catalyst and Pastors.com. Tony and his wife, Emily, live near Atlanta, Georgia with their four children — Kayla, Jacob, Abby and Brooke.

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Recent Comments
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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