The end of the year is a wonderful time for reflection. You, your team, and your church family should take a moment to celebrate all of the great work you accomplished, the wonderful forward strides you made, as well as your progress toward building community, connection, and belonging.
Then it’s time to get back to work.
As the adage reminds us, those who fail to plan are planning to fail. Your church has a tremendous opportunity to grow, engage, and expand in 2024, but reaching your church growth goals requires intention and forethought. Your leadership team must commit the same energy and passion to your new year planning as you invest in your services every Sunday.
That said, this process doesn’t need to be scary! You have so much momentum going for you, so let’s capitalize on the successes and lessons of 2023 and build a strategic plan for another successful year of ministry.
7-Step Guide to Church Planning
1. Create (or Refine) Your Mission Statement
Church communities change over time. Your ministry has probably evolved in more ways than one, so it’s important to reevaluate your purpose, mission, and vision for the future.
Even if you’re comfortable with your church’s current mission statement, it’s a healthy practice to sit down and think about how you’re communicating your vision. Your leaders might have fine-tuned the direction of your ministry in their own minds, but you should ensure those pivots are included in a refreshed mission statement that binds and inspires your church members as you tackle the new year.
2. Do A Competitive SWOT Analysis
Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats.
A SWOT analysis is a fantastic exercise that forces you to identify all of the internal and external factors that your church must manage in the next year. By taking a hard look at where you excel, what you could be doing better, and the unique circumstances in your community, you’ll be ready to execute a plan that’s properly tailored for your ministry.
The most important aspect of this process is being honest with yourself. Strive to keep your analysis grounded in reality, and remain practical about the challenges you’ll likely face in the new year. Some ministries will need to manage lackluster engagement. Others may be at a tipping point with their facilities and infrastructure, or have an engaged but aging congregation. Luckily, church management software can help you develop strong connections within your congregation. From strategic planning among ministry leaders to connecting with your community through a church app, unlock new ways to further your church mission and engagement.
3. Create Goals for the Year
Once you firmly understand where you are, you can confidently chart a course forward.
Hone in on a few specific, attainable goals. What victories can you generate in the next twelve months? Which aspects of your church would you like to see improved, and can realize this year?
Specificity is a powerful motivator for a congregation. Instead of aiming to broadly increase fundraising, consider launching a church event that requires a set amount of donations to succeed. Don’t vaguely try to increase discipleship, but generate a concrete, analytic-driven goal for your faithful. And don’t keep those goals to yourself! Share them loudly and proudly with your community, then watch inspiration spread like a flame.
4. Know How to Budget
This is not as straightforward as it sounds. We all learned how to budget growing up, but once you’re managing an ambitious ministry determined to positively influence a community, it’s easy to gloss over the finer financial points and overreach.
Payrolls change; you can’t assume staffing your ministry will cost exactly the same as last year. The same holds true for donations and expenses. How the money flows in and out of your coffers will fluctuate month to month, year to year. You’ll also need to stay aware of changes in the economy as a whole.
An experienced bookkeeper is never a bad investment for a church, but every church leader should stay conscious of their ministry’s resources and endeavor to allocate them effectively—for fiscal responsibility, of course, but also for the good of their community. Equip your team with church reporting software that accurately tracks valuable church metrics on attendance, donations, and spend so you can safely drive ministry growth.
5. Update Policies & Procedures
It’s a satisfying and uplifting thrill to be part of a healthy church. Your team will enjoy increased engagement, waves of fresh enthusiasm, and eager new faces hoping to contribute to the inspiring work of your ministry.
However, one common misstep for church leadership is not documenting their policies and procedures. As you expand your reach and influence, many excited newcomers to your ministry won’t know the norms and workflows you take for granted. Something that you’ve done for years may seem counterintuitive, odd, or even backward to a new team member.
Be sure to document how your church operates, and update that verbiage regularly. The new year is a great time to revisit your documentation and revise it for the future. It may feel unnecessary, but you can save a lot of headaches by simply writing down how your team does things.
6. Talk to Your Community
Nothing boosts the energy and engagement of a congregation like giving them ownership in your ministries. This should be a year-round effort, but the start of a new year is the perfect time to encourage participation and feedback from your membership.
Even your best-laid plans will falter if you don’t have the support of your congregation. Be open to their reactions and insights for refining your mission. Encourage volunteers to share their unique skills to drive your ministry forward—there’s so much untapped talent in your community!
That said, there’s a flip side to this dynamic: Be alert for spiritual burnout or ministry burnout. This is a pervasive problem in churches. Once-passionate servant leaders often find themselves tired and unmotivated because they’ve given so much of themselves to the mission. As a church leader, you can do wonders by staying conscious of everyone’s workload and maintaining a balance in commitments and responsibilities, even when those at risk don’t realize they’re reaching the end of their rope.
7. Host Fun Monthly Events for Your Community
After the excitement of the holidays, some leaders try to maintain the high engagement and grandeur that churches enjoy during the Christmas season. But not every church event you host needs to exist at that scale.
As you work to preserve momentum through the beginning of the new year, remember that smaller events can play a huge role in keeping your church family engaged over the next several months. Communicate these plans early and often, and invite your community to take the next steps on their faith journey by participating in more intimate activities they may never have considered before.
Grow Your Church with ChurchStaq by Pushpay
The hard work necessary to expand your church and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ are born of dedication, sacrifice, and intentional effort. Pushpay works day-in and day-out to develop the tools that can make those efforts more effective, efficient, and just a little bit easier for passionate leaders like you.
Over 14,000 churches trust Pushpay to support their mission. If you’re interested in seeing what our tools can do, you can take a quick self-guided product tour right now, or sign up for a free demo with one of our experts. We can’t wait to show you how our tools can elevate your ministry, and help take your church where you want it to go.
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