At the second gathering of the leaders of St. Luke, the Congregation Support Specialist (CSS) reviews the work from the first meeting. Last time, they had crafted a Mission Statement (“what we’re doing”), identified the values of the congregation (“why we do what we do”), and considered their strategies for their work together (“how we do what we do”). The CSS asked if there were any additional thoughts and insights people had on the way home from the meeting. He reminds them that “everyone does their best thinking on the way home from the meeting” and encourages them to reflect on their progress.

The group then tackles the most challenging part of the Strategic Mission Planning process. Identifying a compelling, long-term, five-year vision statement requires serious conversation and prayer. The planning group ends the day with this vision in place and five specific annual milestones toward the vision that God had led them to.

The follow-up work for the group is assigned:

* Finalize the Values Statements (Value Statement, Biblical Foundations, and the ways in which that value is evidenced at their church)

* Have a “wet cement” meeting with the congregation leaders and members, sharing their work and asking for comments and questions. This wet cement meeting means that their work is almost completely finished, and major changes are not anticipated, but they want to receive feedback from church leaders and members. If major changes are needed, they will reconvene to determine how to incorporate those changes.

* Bring the completed plan to the congregation for formal adoption.

Key to the success of the Strategic Mission Plan is its ongoing implementation. The planning team sets annual milestones and learns about the rhythm of quarterly meetings of the planning team (or a special implementation team). Each quarter, this team will meet to determine what worked, what didn’t work, what was confusing, and what needs to be reevaluated. This keeps the process moving forward.

The whole process is pursued with an attitude of prayerful focus, genuine commitment, joyful cooperation, and continual monitoring. The key role of the Holy Spirit in sustaining this effort must never be forgotten. All so that the congregation may fulfill its part in God’s mission, that the lost may be found, the saved may be strengthened, and the kingdom of God may come among us.

By Rev. David Bahn, D. Min
Congregation Support Specialist, Area D