As we move into the new year, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the past year and start thinking about what we want to accomplish in the year ahead. For many of us, that means setting goals and making plans. And if you’re a pastor, that probably includes making plans for your church.
But let’s be honest—planning for church can often fall by the wayside, especially when we’re dealing with the day-to-day challenges of ministry. It’s easy to get so caught up in putting out fires that we don’t take the time to step back and think about the big picture.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little bit of effort, you can make church planning a priority in 2023. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Why Church Planning is Important
Though it may seem like a mundane task, planning your church’s ministry year is actually a very important part of a pastor’s job. By taking the time to plan the pastor ensures that the church is running smoothly and your church events, social media, and services are all working together to serve new members and growth of existing members. Here are five reasons why church planning is so important.
Church planning helps the pastor to be organized.
In a fast-paced world, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. By taking time at the start of the year, the pastor build awareness of the direction of the church over the course of the next 12 months.. This level of organization will reflect well on the entire church.
Identifying objectives prevents last-minute scrambling.
When your staff, leaders, and volunteer teams know what you are trying to accomplish in your church over the course of the year, they understand how to contribute toward the big picture goal.
Planning allows the team to be prepared.
An annual plan for your church allows your staff, leaders, and church members to keep key events marked on their calendar. No more last minute cancellations or calendar conflicts.
Planning makes room for spontaneity.
While it’s important to have a plan, that doesn’t mean that every single detail needs to be set in stone. If church events aren’t as successful as you hoped, knowing the big picture objectives of the year means you can make needed changes. Also taking advantage of opportunities as they arrive is more possible for your church when church leaders are clear on the established plan for the year.
Where to focus your church’s planning in 2023
Make a list of your church’s priorities.
What are the most important things you want to accomplish in the next year? What are your top priorities? Write them down and refer to them often. This will help you stay focused on what’s most important.
Set SMART goals.
After you’ve identified your priorities, it’s time to set some goals. But be sure to set goals that are realistic and achievable. There’s nothing worse than setting yourself up for disappointment by setting unrealistic goals that you can’t possibly reach.
To help your team build the right kind of goals, you can refer to them as SMART goals. What are SMART goals? These are goals which move from abstract to concrete. SMART goals inspire your team to envision success but, more than that, give clarity to what success looks like for your church. SMART goals go beyond simply writing down some words but actually building a plan to see the goal accomplished in your church.
When it comes to setting goals, one of the most effective strategies is using the SMART goals method. This means that your SMART goals should be:
- Realistic, and
By following this structure, you can ensure that your goals are clearly defined and that you have a tangible plan for achieving them. It also helps to keep you accountable and on track towards reaching your desired outcome. So when setting your next goals, remember to make them SMART goals! You’ll be surprised at how much more successful you can become.
Create a mission timeline.
Once you have your goals in place, it will be much easier to create a timeline for achieving them. This will help you stay on track and ensure that your goals are met.
A mission timeline for your church begins with your church’s vision, then breaks that into a more tangible future reality (generally 3-5 years down the road). We then take the 3-5 year outlook for church and set out where you envision your church being 12 months from now.
When we build this timeline we might consider metrics such as:
- Overall number of attendees
- Overall number of members
- New members added in the last 12 months
- New attendees to your church
- Youth and adults engaged in church groups
- Social media effectiveness of church accounts online
Assign responsibility to church leaders.
In order to make church planning a priority, you may need to delegate some of your other responsibilities to someone else. This will free up your time so that you can focus on planning and goal-setting.
Seek input from church members.
Don’t try to do everything yourself—get input from others who are involved in ministry at your church. The insights and perspectives of church members can be invaluable as you make plans for the year ahead.
Keep an open mind
As you make plans your church, keep in mind that things may not always go according to plan! Be flexible and be willing to adjust your plans as needed based on what happens throughout the year.
As you make plans for 2023, remember to have faith—faith that God will lead you and guide you as you seek to serve Him and His people through your church ministry.