What if you could advance (even accelerate) your organization’s ministry calling through a sustainable strategy that operates and functions immediately?
You can! Read on for the proven approach and principled plan that can move your ministry forward. (The closing story, alone, is pure gold.)
Does any of this sound familiar?
Many ministries are started out of a deep passion to see something different in the world. The vision gets articulated and people rally around it. Yet, here’s the reality: If you read the vision out loud to the people, and then sort of go about doing it, it doesn’t go very well. The people can do virtuous work and they can even attach their work to a lofty idea, but they don’t know if they’re hitting the mark, or if it’s what you intended.”
These are the words of Greg Hawkins, Minister of Ministry Development at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he serves as chief strategist for the church. After earning an MBA from Stanford University, Greg worked 5 years at the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and then served in senior leadership at Willow Creek Community Church before coming to Oak Hills in September 2013.
As Greg points out, many ministries have extremely compelling visions, missions and values, yet they fall short on developing a strategy to execute them. Greg recommends two additional pieces you must have in place to support a Sustainable Strategy:
- Measurable Goals: “Goal-setting defines the pace of change and gets very specific as to how the strategy will manifest itself and how we’ll know if the strategy, itself, is working.”
- Accountability: “In a thriving, healthy culture, senior leaders, department heads and managers hold their people accountable for the individual’s faithfulness to do what he or she said they were going to do. A successful strategy is all about meeting measurable goals and bringing the work of many into alignment of where the organization senses God is directing them through the fruit of the Spirit.”
How does this practically come about?
A sustainable strategy must start with the top leader, who needs to be committed to the strategic process 100%. This can be a CEO, president or senior pastor who wants to get clear about how to move the ministry forward and more effectively realize their mission and vision.
Says Greg, “The strategic process I’ve worked with to help Oak Hills and other churches is a powerful engine of insight and effectiveness called StratOp, developed by Tom Paterson.” Over a three-day, facilitated, interactive process, StratOp (short for strategy and operations):
- Gives leaders and their teams perspective on all of the strategic, financial and operational parts of their church
- Helps them know where they stand
- Clarifies where they should go
- Gives them a customized plan on how to get there
The actual six-step model looks like this (courtesy of The Paterson Center):
- Perspective > Where are we now?
- Planning > Where are we headed?
- Action > What’s important now?
- Structure > What form best facilitates our plan?
- Management > How are we doing?
- Renewal > What must change?
“Successful strategy that’s both functional and operational has to live in the context of a healthy culture. Strategy and culture must work as partners. If you have a good strategy and an unhealthy culture, it’s no good. Likewise, if you have a great culture, but no strategy or vision, your organization is certainly not making an impact for God, at least not producing results that last.”
Successful strategy that’s both functional and operational has to live in the context of a healthy culture.
In our final moments together, I asked Greg, “What’s a favorite story of yours of how a strategic planning process took hold in an organization’s culture and truly advanced the ministry’s vision?” Here’s what he said:
I listened, wanting to understand his hesitations. I asked Rex, “Within the Community Care Ministry, do you have any opportunities to share the gospel, perhaps through someone who would be willing to share his or her faith?”
“Well, we’re not really overt, because as you know we’re very seeker-friendly.”
“What would happen,” I said, “if, at one of your workshops, someone shared the gospel?” Rex said he was open to bringing the ministry for which he was responsible into alignment with Willow Creek’s overall strategic process and mission to “to help people become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”
The result: Over the next two years at Community Care Ministry, more people came to faith than through any other ministry at Willow Creek Community Church.
We knew this to be true by celebrating many, many adult baptisms, a tangible measure of the ministry impact God brought about through Willow’s new strategic direction.
“If you want to know the truth of where your organization is right now and are committed to translating your vision into a strategy with accountable, measurable goals that can be reached, God will meet you along the way and help you discover what’s next for fulfilling your organization’s ministry calling.”