You go away for a staff retreat and come back energized by the discussion about future opportunities. You didn’t accomplish quite as much in the retreat as you had hoped, but everyone agreed to meet the next week to make specific decisions on next steps. Then in that next meeting, the discussion stays in the clouds and you still don’t set priorities. Before you know it, a month has passed and you still haven’t agreed on any specific plans.
Unfortunately, this scenario is common among churches and ministries. Everyone loves the big picture conversations, but they shy away from finishing the process. Developing specific plans is hard work. It requires trade-offs, choosing one idea over another. It calls for commitment and accountability. So it’s easier to stop before getting into these details. Easier, but less effective.
If you’re in a leadership role (and it doesn’t have to be the “first chair”), don’t let this happen to your organization. Finish your plans. Here are 3 approaches that can help:
- “If we don’t do anything else, we must …” Completing this statement forces you to choose a single priority. It doesn’t mean that other ideas aren’t important, but it does declare what is most important. The more specific your answer, the better. “Establish local mission partnerships” has more traction than “Make a difference in our community.” Once you know what goes in the blank, then you can discuss “how” it will be accomplished.
- Set an objective goal. Determining how you will define and measure success narrows and clarifies priorities. A goal to be “more welcoming” means very little. A target for the number of new members in a year should lead to a discussion of what needs to change in order to reach the goal.
- “What by when by who.” This simple format for plans spells out the key steps to be taken, the timeline for doing it, and the person that has ultimate responsibility.
You may not choose to use any of these approaches. But if the opening paragraph about staff retreats rings true, I hope that you will do something to get your plans across the finish line.
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