The 3 Things Every Church Strategy Needs

Do you ever find yourself thinking about the same tough situation in your ministry over and over again without moving toward a solution? Maybe you have a myriad of solutions but struggle with the right one to pursue.

Or perhaps you aren’t sure what your ministry needs to do next to be more effective in engaging kids and parents.

Strategy Steps for Getting Unstuck

If you’ve ever felt like this, you’re not alone. It’s a paralyzing stuck-ness—a maddening sense of not being sure what to do next. Every leader feels it from time to time and let’s be honest, it can be miserable.

So what’s a strategic-thinking leader to do?

Let’s start with the mindset that problem-solving within a foundation of strategy is really not that hard. A strategy is nothing more than a simple picture of the end in mind, with a clear path to get there.

But even for the most confident of leaders, it’s easy to encounter roadblocks that get in the way of pursuing a strategic direction, or even just solving a problem. From working with teams around the world in strategic cohorts, I’ve found three things that the sharpest strategic leaders do to keep them moving in the right direction.

1. Address the Right Problem

Sounds like common sense, right? But research tells us that more than 50% of the time, we work hard on solving what actually isn’t the problem—only to end up frustrated. So what can we do?

Start by slowing down enough to ask: “What actually is the issue we need to address?”

  • Is our preschool department struggling because of space, or are we not using the space as well as we could?
  • Are our parents really not interested in engaging with us or are we not doing a great job in facilitating the engagement?

Widen the circle of thinking beyond yourself and work on isolating the problem down to its root. Push the team to go beyond opinions to land on facts. Ask: “Do we really know this or do we think we know this?”

Push for proof. Articulate the problem as best you can by putting it in words that describe what the issue is and why it must be solved.

2. Push Beyond

When you’re facing a dilemma that needs a solution, it’s tempting to stop at the first good idea. Don’t be fooled. Many times the best strategic solution will lay a few layers underneath the first ideas.

Keep going. Ask questions like, “What else?” and “What are you thinking about that sounds crazy or beyond what we can do?” Backtrack often to your end in mind. And when the ideas seem to trickle to a halt, ask, “Who has one more idea?”

Flip the problem forward by saying, “Let’s imagine that we’ve solved this problem perfectly. What does the situation look like now? How did we get there?” Keep a “both/and” mindset and feel free to combine more than one solution to arrive at your best.

3. Recognize that Breakthrough Is Horizontal

In order for your strategy to be successful, it’s going to take more than just you. Getting buy-in is more than just declaring the strategy or inviting your teams to join you on deck.

It starts with heart-engagement and the question, “Who needs to be involved in the conversation that hasn’t been so far?” We all tend to more fully support a world we help create, so view your strategy as a living, evolving entity that refuses to be discouraged by silos, but gets better with wider engagement.

Ask, “How can our strategy be even more effective?” “What should we think about that we aren’t thinking about now?” Lead horizontally and vertically by including volunteers, parents, other church departments, and your Lead Pastor.

A Solution to Your Strategy Problems

Is your team looking for ways to think more strategically and form a cohesive strategy that helps your church partner with parents? Our next Orange Learning Collective is forming now! Contact Sherry Surratt at ssurratt@rethinkgroup.org for more information.

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