Church Leadership And Infrastructure Development

Strategic Planning Operating Procedure


The purpose of this operating procedure is to establish, document, and communicate the process for strategic planning at YOUR CHURCH.


The strategic planning process is used by senior staff to evaluate the organization’s performance, in terms of meeting stakeholder needs, and to develop a plan to better meet those needs during the coming planning period.  The process begins with an annual strategic planning session and ends with the distribution and periodic update of a strategic plan document as well as a set of assumptions and other input for the financial planning process.


As with all procedures and other documentation contained in the Management System, it is the responsibility of all ministry area leaders to ensure the details of this process are known and followed by all church paid staff and ministry area volunteers.  The primary responsibility for this process rests with the Executive Pastor.


(1) Prepare and Distribute Planning Session Pre-Work

(1.1) To begin the annual strategic planning process, the Executive Pastor schedules the time with the senior staff.  Time can be spent all at once in a multi-day offsite meeting or a day per week can be devoted for several weeks.

(1.2) The planning session schedule should allow completion of this process and the financial planning process in time to gain church board approval by or before the 1st week in December.

(1.3) The senior staff is provided with an updated Percept Ministry Area Profile, previous month KPMs, other survey results, etc. along with an agenda for the planning session(s) prior to the first meeting.

(1.4) Each senior staff member should meet with their team (staff and/or volunteer) in preparation for the planning session.  These meetings should be focused on gaining input and insight from the team as to the results from the previous year and what needs to happen in that ministry in the coming year.

(1.5) The results from these “pre-planning meetings” should be documented using a Strategic Planning Process Questionnaire and should be brought to the first planning meeting.

(2) Review/Update Stakeholder Needs

(2.1) The first step in developing the Strategic Plan for the coming year is an evaluation of the stakeholders and how well the church has met their needs over the previous year.

(2.2) The stakeholder needs evaluation is accomplished through a thorough review of the demographics to improve the team’s understanding of the target group and their needs.

(2.3) The outcome of the stakeholder evaluation is documented via a target group profile document.  The document is updated each year as needed to keep it current.

(2.4) Determining how well the church has met the stakeholder needs is accomplished through a review of the “results” (KPMs) as well as other information the senior staff may have (discussions with newcomers, experiences with volunteers, informal feedback, surveys, etc.).

(3) Review/Update Strategy

(3.1) The next step in the planning process is a review of the documented strategy.

(3.2) Equipped with a renewed understanding of stakeholder needs, the senior staff reviews all parts of the documented strategy to ensure its implementation will completely and effectively meet the needs of the stakeholders.

(3.3) If necessary, the strategy is revised to correct any concerns that its implementation will not completely meet stakeholder needs.

(3.4) Any changes to the strategy are recorded and included in the final strategic plan document.

(4) Develop Key Objectives

(4.1) The next step in the planning process is the creation of a master set of key objectives.

(4.2) The key objectives state what the senior staff determines are those specific actions needed, for the given planning period, to improve existing systems, processes, and methods or to create new systems, processes, and methods.

(4.3) Key objectives are brainstormed during the planning session.  Each key objective should be connected to a specific measure or measures and be clearly an action deemed necessary to improve the church’s implementation of the strategy.

(4.4) Each key objective is listed and an “objective leader” is assigned that is responsible for ensuring the objective is completed.

(4.5) The objective leader, working with the rest of the senior staff, commits to a due date for the objective, which is also documented.

(4.6) The list of key objectives, along with leaders and due dates for each, is recorded in the final strategic plan document.

(5) Conduct Organizational Review

(5.1) Once the plan is documented (at least in draft form), the process of determining what resources will be necessary to ensure its successful completion is initiated.

(5.2) The first resource area to consider is the existing staff and volunteers.  The organizational review is a formal review and discussion of how the church is currently organized and how, if necessary, the organization should change/evolve over the coming planning period.

(5.3) In addition to the organizational structure, the senior staff discusses each member of the staff as well as key volunteer leaders, determining where weaknesses exist and how best to address these weaknesses.

(5.4) A formal “faces to watch” list is developed and documented as a vehicle for discussing up and coming leadership talent in the church, being sure to identify staff positions or areas of service that could be filled with up and coming leaders.

(5.5) An initial list of “new hires” is also developed and documented as part of the organizational review.  The financial resources needed to add the people or positions on the list are determined as part of the financial planning process.  Adjustments in the list are made if necessary which more often than not impacts the key objectives previously identified.

(5.6) The outcomes of the organizational review process include revised organizational charts as well as listings of both “faces to watch” and agreed upon new hires.

(6) Develop Financial Planning Assumptions

(6.1) From the draft of the Strategic Plan a set of assumptions is developed that will drive the financial planning process.

(6.2) First, the plan drives the creation of an income model that helps the senior staff to project the income line of the budget.

(6.3) Major events, conferences, etc. are listed in the assumptions along with timing and rough cost estimates.

(6.4) The outcome of the organizational review in terms of planned staff additions is used to determine the salary and benefits budgets.

(6.5) The cost to implement other key objectives is also included in the financial planning assumptions.

(7) Finalize and Distribute Strategic Plan

(7.1) After the Strategic Plan has been adjusted as a result of the financial planning process and other considerations, a final draft is distributed for the senior staff’s review.

(7.2) Following the final review, the master copy of the strategic plan is published in the Management System.  Church staff is notified and encouraged to review and get familiar with the completed plan.

(7.3) The Strategic Plan is reviewed by the senior staff and adjusted as needed on a monthly basis.

Related Posts:

Key Performance Measures (KPMs)
Strategic Plan Document
Developing A “Plan And Execute” Culture
How To Write An Operating Procedure
The Management System – Form, Fit, And Function

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