I'm often asked by pastors “of all the things I have to do, what is most important right now?”
It’s a difficult question to answer because it could vary depending on the church. What is most important for one person may not be as important for another. But what I do know, based on my experience of coaching pastors over the years, is that there are three things you should never neglect if you want your ministry to thrive and grow in the long term.
And churches historically struggle with each of them.
#1 – Create a real strategic plan.
Most churches have purpose statements – big picture, vision-laced, sometimes bloated statements meant to inspire.
Some have goals – something they are trying to accomplish in this next ministry season.
Very few have any semblance of a strategic plan – a documented, step-by-step answer to the HOW questions in ministry.
Strategy isn’t about grand plans, big ideas, or fancy tools and tactics. It’s about defining a set of choices that will drive the mission of your church forward.
But this is the glue that holds everything together, the actual plan that will get your people on the same page. The thoughtful process describes how you'll do what God has called you to do.
The template we created for you is called the Two Page Plan. Page one will help you clarify who you are and page two is where you document what you do.
If you don't have this granular level of clarity, this is where I would start.
#2 – Double down on pastoral communication to your congregation.
I know you want to reach your whole community. But to do that, you'll need more than a staff and some committed leaders. You'll need to engage and empower your congregation, releasing them to do the work of the ministry.
Start with your volunteers. Make sure they know your purpose, vision, and strategy. Make sure they feel appreciated and loved.
Over-communicate to your donors. Send them an email every month letting them know how you're being a good steward and how you're staying on mission. Steal this one and customize it for your church.
And yes, email is the channel you want to use. I know it's boring and not as trendy as the latest social media app. But tell your members it's your #1 way you'll communicate with them and make it meaningful.
It's easier than ever to lose touch with your congregation. Time is well spent here.
#3 – Put leadership development on your calendar.
One of the biggest problems churches are facing today is the lack of leaders.
Not money, facilities, or denomination.
It’s not even more people or more volunteers.
Leadership is the tip of the spear.
The problem is there’s no quick fix.
You can’t just preach a sermon, make an announcement, or download some new tool and suddenly have more qualified leaders to do the work of the ministry.
You can’t recruit leaders with an announcement and developing them looks more like a long-term discipleship plan than a quick online course.
You need to start focusing on this right away, even though there are surely more urgent matters facing you. Because if you don't make time for this now, you'll be playing catch-up until you do.