Four Errors of Church Strategy

A church benefits from both spiritual and strategic leadership. The latter must not overpower the former, as spiritual leadership must trump strategic leadership—but both serve a church well. When a ministry leader leads well, the ministry will receive strategic direction, even if a different term is used. As ministry leaders seek to organize the work of the ministry and mobilize people to serve one another, here are four common errors in church strategy to avoid:

1. An Absent Strategy

In my experience, the majority of ministry leaders can tell you why they do what they do. If you ask, you will likely receive answers like “He called me to this,” “For His glory,” or “So the Church may be built up.” Many church leaders can tell you what they are compelled to do. “Our church exists to make disciples,” for example. But very few ministry leaders can tell you how they do what they do or how their ministries are designed to make disciples.

2. A Disconnected Strategy

While an absent strategy is common, a disconnected one is worse. Mission is what a ministry or organization seeks to accomplish, and strategy is the how. If a church has a strategy disconnected from making disciples, then another mission is driving the church. Therefore, if a church’s strategy is not connected to making disciples, then the church has adopted a mission other than the one Christ gave to His people.

3. A Photocopied Strategy

Many leaders photocopy a strategy they find elsewhere and attempt to reverse-engineer it into their context. It is one thing to learn from others, and it is quite another to implement someone else’s strategy as if that context and yours are the same.

4. A Complicated Strategy

As a church grows and matures, there is an inevitable pull toward complexity. There is a temptation and proclivity to add layers of bureaucracy and to fill calendars with lots of events and programs. As a church drifts toward complexity, staff become program managers instead of equippers. A simple strategy fights against the inevitable drift of complexity. When the strategy is simple, the most important environments that flow from the mission of making disciples are emphasized.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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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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