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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If you’re not satisfied with your church’s strategy, start a conversation with our team. We’re glad to offer our input. Your vision is at stake, so let’s talk.

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Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has 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, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
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