Have you ever looked at your job, a specific challenge or even seemingly simple and mundane tasks that have to get done, and rather than thinking through the best way to tackle it, you just jump in and see what happens? We’ve all done it. We think the extra time on the front end is a waste and it’ll be okay to figure it out as we go.
Unfortunately, many times a scattered approach is chosen over a strategic one. We start by trying a bunch of stuff or programs, see where it hits, see what people get excited about or attend (and maybe they attended because they had nothing else to do, or maybe they didn’t attend because it was scheduled on a bad day) and, from the response of the crowd, determine if the program is continued.
This process is repeated annually and more and more stuff is added and the calendar gets more and more packed and nothing really goes together or leads to a specific strategy.
Since there was no clear reason for beginning something, there is no clear reason to stop it. If the goal is a full calendar so the church kids stay out of trouble and the size of the church building is justified, then lots of programs will follow.
However, if a clearly defined goal is stated for each program, if a clearly outlined strategy is put in place, then you no longer have scattered programs but you take intentional steps toward your over-arching strategy.
The benefits of having a clear strategic plan and knowing where you are going before you begin are numerous:
- You can measure and evaluate if you are headed in the right direction.
- You have an understood filter to run every possible program through before you start it.
- You have a clear mission and vision to share with everyone who asks why you do what you do—or don’t do what you don’t do.
- The families who attend your church have a clear understanding about the direction you are leading their children as you partner with them.
- The leaders of each environment understand why they are doing what they do.
- Resources can be appropriately allocated in order to make the strategic programs a memorable and fun experience. Or said another way, you can do a few things and do each of them very, very well.
- And, this one is very important: You prevent your staff from burning out and wrecking their marriages and lives because they are constantly at the church setting up, implementing and cleaning up after another scattered program.
With things like organizing your sock drawer or cleaning out your garage, a scattered approach is probably okay. But for things that really matter, for things that have the potential to impact families and their children like a church’s family ministry environments do, it’s well worth our time to develop a strategic plan for all our programs.
As I lead Rock Point Community Church, my goal is to make sure our staff stays focused on creating strategic programs. We lead with the end in mind and completely understand that less is more. While it definitely takes time to develop a strategy and then make sure everyone—from staff members to volunteers—is trained and they understand it, the impact we see with families is completely worth it.