Have you ever ridden in a taxi? If you have, you know the drill. Once you’re lucky enough to flag down a cab, you climb in and the driver asks, “Where to?”
Pretty simple question, right? What would happen if your reply to the driver was, “I’m not sure.” I don’t know how the driver would react, but I can be sure you wouldn’t go anywhere. You’ve got to have a destination in mind when you begin a journey.
Churches however, often are without destination. On many occasions, I’ve handed blank paper to ten or more church leaders and provided the following instruction, “On your paper, in three paragraphs or less, write down your church’s vision.” The results are typically dismal at best. I almost always get ten very different responses.
So, what’s the problem? Church leaders may have an idea of where they want to go, but the destination has rarely been formally identified. Even in cases when churches can reasonably articulate their vision, they can rarely couple that with an explanation of how they plan to get there.
Imagine this. You want to go to Baltimore. I tell you that is where I’m going, so you get in the car with me here in Atlanta. You’re excited. You can’t wait to get to Baltimore.
I begin to drive, but, much to your surprise, I’m headed south. You remain quiet thinking there must be some logical explanation. After several hours, we arrive in Orlando, Florida. You’re still confused, so you ask, “We are going to Baltimore, right?” I assure you we are. Reluctantly, you stay in the car.
As we leave Orlando, I head northwest. Once again, you’re confused but you stay with me. After almost a full day of driving we arrive in Dallas, Texas. This is just weird, right? What happened to Baltimore? You ask me again to confirm our destination. I assure you, yet again, we’re headed to Maryland’s largest city. So, with some hesitation, you remain in the car.
We should now be heading northeast. Surprisingly however, I point the car due north toward Wichita, Kansas. Enough already. You ask me to stop the car and your say, “I thought we were going to Baltimore.” “We are,” I reply, but I like these other cities and thought we’d visit them on the way. “No thanks,” you say and you ask me to drive you to the nearest bus station where you get on a bus headed directly to Baltimore.
This scenario is true of many churches. Even when a church has identified (well kind of identified) a destination, they seem to drive all over the country trying to get there. As a result, many of their passengers (church members and attenders) decide to get out of the vehicle and find a church taking a more direct route to there they thought you were going.
Church’s pay a high price for their geographic (vision) schizophrenia and lack of planning.
Do you have a strategic plan? You may say yes, but if you don’t know exactly where you’re going and precisely how you’ll get there, you really don’t have a plan.
Do you want a plan? If so, how do you develop a strategic plan? There are seven things that must happen.
- Clearly identify your vision. Where are you going and what will it look like when you get there?
- Be sure you’re fully aware of where you are today. You’ve got to know your starting point in order to draw an accurate map to your destination.
- Determine the obstacles between Point-A (where you are) and Point-B (where you’re going). You need to know the issues and challenges you’ll encounter on your journey. You want to minimize surprises and be prepared for the speed bumps.
- Draw your map. You’ll need to develop a detailed action plan to get you from Point-A to Point-B. Your plan should allow for the roadblocks identified in #3 and include the directions for avoiding those obstacles.
- Get it all on paper and be sure your team, and your “passengers,” are onboard. A plan is not really a plan until you write in down in detail.
- Get everyone in the car. All of your planning is no good if your drivers (staff and leadership) aren’t ready and your passengers (members and attenders) aren’t in the car.
- Execute. The plan, if written down in the most intricate of detail, is worthless if you don’t get in the car and start driving… according to your map, of course.
It’s not that difficult. It is a process however, and It’s not a quick, easy, or painless process. It requires time, work, and sacrifice, but in the end the payoff is substantial.
Do you need help developing a plan? Do you need help just getting started. If so, I want to help. Click the link below to schedule a 30-minute, no-cost, no-obligation phone call with me. We’ll talk through all six of the steps listed above.
Question: Do you have a plan? If not, what’s the first thing you need to do to begin that process today?