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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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> 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
 

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