November 20, 2023

How to Successfully Execute Your Strategic Plan

execute strategic plan

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I have worked with a lot of churches over the years (you name it, I’ve seen it), and I’ve started to notice a common theme among the teams I work with:

In many cases, as I begin to work through planning process with a team, I’ve grown to expect a resistance for change. Not an unanimous resistance… but a hesitancy among team members that are passionate about the traditions of the church.

I often hear things like: 

“We’ve tried to make changes like this before and we never see it through. Something always comes up that causes us to stop or change direction. This looks great on paper… but it really isn’t worth the effort.”

Did you catch that? They believed in the plan. But, they did not believe in the team’s ability to execute the plan. 

Follow-through may very well be the greatest missing key within churches. 

It’s probably the number one complaint we get from church leaders about their teams. You might’ve felt some of these things: 

  • Change is talked about more than it is made
  • Random opportunities are chased, taking the focus away from potentially successful ministry
  • The church continues to decline as leaders are unsure of next steps
  • Your team loses faith in the future of your church 

So, how can you develop a plan to create a healthy and growing church—and actually see it through? 

Here are 5 steps towards successful execution:

1. Designate a Champion 

No matter how focused you are, the day to day always catches up. For your strategic plan to survive and create change within your church, someone must protect it and champion it. A great project champion is someone that is a systematic leader who can effectively break down small projects into small steps.

HINT: The person should not be the senior pastor. While the senior pastor is casting the vision, someone else should be connecting that vision to reality. 

2. Clarify How the Plan Gets Changed

Your church and your community are dynamic, evolving environments full of change, challenge and opportunity. This is why you can be sure that your strategic plan is going to change. 

Clarify which leaders have the authority to make changes on their own, and what needs to be brought to the leadership team. Setting aside specific time to discuss updates and changes related to your plan is crucial for the overall success of the plan.

3. Define Responsibilities and Authorities

Effective delegation creates clarity within your team, and allows your team to understand who owns what. And while this sounds really simple, this is one of the most common reasons church teams get stuck.

Effective delegation creates clarity within your team and allows your team to understand who owns what. And while this sounds really simple, this is one of the most common reasons church teams get stuck. Click To Tweet

When each person has a clear and solid understanding of both the system and their responsibilities, it will clear the way for leaders to operate efficiently without unexpected political slowdowns.

4. Constantly Clarify Priorities

There are always plenty the team could be focused on. Therefore, your team needs reminders of what on the plan takes priority.

As the leader, you communicate priorities in two ways: what you say and what you measure. Frequently discuss your priorities to keep them top of mind. Additionally, evaluating the metrics of your priorities communicates importance and urgency among your team to work diligently towards them.

As the leader, you communicate priorities in two ways: what you say and what you measure. Click To Tweet

5. Give it Time

Each strategic plan takes time to yield positive results—it will cost you something. When this happens, don’t lose hope! You cannot expect final results from an incomplete process.

We help pastors clarify where God's called the church to go in the future, and how you'll get there—and then we coach you as you lead change.

Interested in learning more?

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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