Summary of The Strategic Planning Proposal Approved by The Church Council on November 20, 2023
The following is our effort to develop a strategic planning process for Binkley. It is not a finished plan, however. Rather, it is an approach to developing a strategic plan for the church. You will quickly note that this approach will involve hours upon hours of work, both in developing the strategic plan and the implementation of the plan. It will require a church-wide effort to do both.
Most importantly, it will demand buy-in, especially from the pastor, church staff, the leadership team, the Church Council, the deacons, committee chairs, and the entire congregation. Without that buy-in, neither this process nor the plan that results from it will be of much use.
The following outlines, in some detail, all the particulars associated with the planning process we will follow. We are confident if the church takes this process seriously, we can address many of our challenges now and in the future. In addition, the planning process can bring us together, aim us in one common direction, and energize us.
First, why plan? Why set all these goals? Why all this busy work?
If You Can’t Measure it, You Can’t Manage It
At the end of the day what we are recommending is a method called Management by Objective. Don’t be alarmed. We know the word management is not one associated with a church. We will call it something else–accomplishments by objective, perhaps. It doesn’t matter what we call it. It is the process that’s important.
A little bit of history from the business and management world. Again, don’t get caught up in the language.
The business community has learned over time that its most important asset is its people. In the case of the church that would be our members. Organizations see the same thing with their membership and stakeholders; these individuals, many times, have the answers to most, if not all, of the questions and challenges facing the organization. It didn’t used to be that way.
In the early days of American Industrialization, a time dominated by the likes of Frederick Taylor and his theories of Scientific Management, employees were nothing more than cogs in the wheel of the machine of industry. Beginning in the 1950s, however, the business world discovered that by tapping into the talents and skills of their workers — the same workers they used to ignore and felt were easily replaceable — they could get closer to achieving their goals. We think the same can be the case with members of our congregation.
The thinking blossomed into what we now consider Modern Management approaches and Management by Objective. Although these approaches have gone through a variety of iterations, at its core modern management depends on Participatory Management. The top-down, “do-what-I-tell-you” style (although still around in some circles) has been scrapped. It’s been replaced with “What do you think?” questions to employees. “How can we help you do a better job?” “What do we need to be doing to improve our organization?”
You may be familiar with this process. There is nothing new about it. But here’s how we see it working with us.
The Planning Process, Performance Dimensions, and Input Sessions
Organizations like ours call their staff, leaders, members, and stakeholders together in a variety of different forums – some small; some large. Planning leaders are tasked with asking questions of these individuals about various performance dimensions. For our purposes, the planning discussion will be guided by using the following five performance dimensions:
Fostering Church Community- The issues or goals contained within this dimension are critical to the church. In a business situation, this dimension would contain those ideas about how the organization does its business. How can it improve the production of widgets? This doesn’t translate nicely to a church environment. But the questions need to be asked: “How can we improve our programming – church services, music, instruction, outreach, children’s programming?” By the way, in this process, especially when resources are limited, what are we still doing that should have been eliminated years ago? That comes under the “less is more” category.
Staff/Volunteer Development- The issues and goals include matters such as training – formal education, conferences, guest lectures, other enrichment programs, etc. That sounds like it would be primarily for staff. Maybe so. But, for example, if we have volunteers working in fundraising, it may be worth our while to provide some training for these purposes. “How do you ask for the order?” or in our case, “How do you ask for the gift?” Anyone who has ever tried to raise money knows how uncomfortable that can be. Surely a small amount of training would help. More on this example later.
Marketing/Communication- This performance dimension deals with increasing membership or building the brand of our church. Included in this dimension might be a research study of current members or potential members. Another example is that apartments and condos will be opening next door. Our efforts to attract church members from the new owners of those nearby dwellings through a direct mail campaign might be included in this section.
Outreach/Evangelism- Congregational issues will be included in this dimension. For example, we may want to ascertain what the congregation thinks about one issue or another. Once ascertained through polling or whatever, then the church responds one way or the other. Simply put, what does the congregation want and how can the church provide it? There are also issues of Outreach/Evangelism that have nothing to do with members. We are already involved in a plethora of such outreach programs. Is there more to be done? Should we redirect our resources to other, more current issues? Those questions and goals will come in this section.
Fundraising/Stewardship- This dimension holds ideas concerning how we can bring more money into the church as well as how can we be more efficient and responsible with the money we have. The operating budget, the capital budget, the endowment, and development efforts would all be within this dimension. (This does not mean to suggest that the budgeting process would be included in the planning process. It would not. But the planning process can present ideas that will require budgetary considerations.) This dimension will contain specific fundraising goals for these budgets.
During the process of soliciting ideas from staff, leadership, and members of the congregation, every idea is written down under the appropriate performance dimension, usually with a flip chart. The idea should be recorded as specifically as possible. We will make every effort to list it in the SMAART goal form. Also written down is the name of the person who offered the possible goal. This is important.
Although capital budget projects would be considered in the budgeting process, the need for work-saving capital budget items may, appropriately, first come up in this planning process. That said, the discussion of capital budget requests will be avoided in this process. They may be listed, but if they are entertained, these planning sessions can become limited to “buying things.” Our question primarily will be “What should we be doing if our financial resources remain the same?”
Every staff member, every member of the congregation is told at the beginning of the planning process that not all ideas can be included in any given year’s plan. We don’t have the budget to do everything, plus some ideas undoubtedly will be more important than others. So, at the end of the idea-collection process, planning leaders must go back to each individual and tell them if their idea is included, or why their idea was eliminated from this year’s plan. In our experience, stakeholders not only appreciate this gesture but seem to recognize that they have at the very least been heard.
At the end of the process, a plan will be written. Using these performance dimensions, goals will be outlined under the proper dimension using the SMAART goal method. We might have a goal to increase operating membership by 10 percent. First, the goal must be tested. Is it specific? Is it measurable? Is it attainable? Is it assignable (who is in charge)? Is it relevant? Is it timebound? You may be more familiar with SMART goals. That method leaves out one important test. Assignability. If someone is not in charge or responsible for reaching a particular goal, it is a safe bet it will not be accomplished.
We plan to work to have the plan finalized by the start of the new Church Council year in March.
Lisa Parks and Jim Hefner
Input Sessions Dates & TimeS
|2 – 3:30 PM
|7 – 8:30 PM
|10:30 AM – 12 PM
|9:30 – 10:30 AM
|10:30 AM – 12 PM
|2 – 3:30 PM
|9:30 – 10:30 AM
|9:30 – 10:30 AM
Sign Up to Attend an Input Session
You may sign up in person on Sunday, January 7, or contact the church office to reserve your space by emailing Donna Crisp at email@example.com. Please include your name and which date and time you’d like to attend.