Strategic Planning made Simple [kind of]…

So my friends over at Oakbrook Church are doing 3 days of big-time strategic planning right now.  These are very important days in the life of the church.  These 3 days will set the direction for the next few years.  Strategic planning is also very important in the life of a Youth Ministry.  This planning will help you figure out, “What do we want to accomplish this year, why do we want to accomplish it, and how will we accomplish it?”  As I started thinking about this process, it dawned on me… “maybe not everyone knows how to engage in this process or even knows where to start?” I knew that was me a few years ago, so I drew up a simple template that helps me think through the strategic process.  This template is great for your team to use to strategically plan together.  Here is the template:

Mission/Vision/Values: It is VERY important that this be the first part of the strategic planning process.  Why? Because these are WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT.  These three things should guide whether you carry out your strategic initiatives or not.  These are the initial measuring stick for your strategic planning.

Strategic Issues for Future: These are the Issues that need to be addressed in the year/years ahead.  These will ultimately frame your major strategic plans.  This is where you begin to ask “Where do we want to go?  What do we want to accomplish?  What does our organization need to go to the next level?  What do our students need in order to grow?”

Initiatives: These are your major strategic moves.  I suggest only doing 3 major initiatives at a time.  Why?  Because you want to do things well.  In my opinion, it is way better to do a few things well than a bunch of things mediocre.  In my experience, 3 is probably the max that you can focus on and do them well.  Let me give you an example:  maybe in your Issues you raised the concern for students engaging deeper with each other in community and relationship.  One of your initiatives would then be “deeper community.”  You would then begin to wrestle with the concept of “what should this look like in our ministry?”  This will help you go even deeper than, “Well… we have community groups, isn’t that enough?”

Goals & Objectives: Now that you have identified your initiative, you need to wrestle with the what and why.  you need to state, “This is what we will do and this is why we are going to do it.”  Clearly state your goals and objectives.  Why?  Because clarity will help you better measure the effectiveness of the initiative.

Action Plans/ Implementation: Now that you know “What” you are going to do and “Why” you are doing it, you need to put it into action.  Spell out “How” this initiative will work.  Be thorough.  The more thorough and detailed you are in the beginning, the easier it will be to cast a vision for it later.

Measure/ Evaluation checkpoints: This is the one part of the process that gets left out most of the time.  Most of the time we run to implementation without ever asking ourselves, “Now, how do we know if this is successful or not?”  That is why, so many times, we don’t know success when we see it.  We need to learn to define success and measurement BEFORE we begin casting vision and implementing any new strategic plans.  This will ensure that we see the strategy for what it really is and not what we hope it is accomplishing.

**This process has been extremely helpful for me and my teams in the past [whether they knew we were doing this or not ;-)]  My hope is that it would help you and your team better strategically plan for the future.

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