Something New (old) for Summer

Summer is just days away. For many this coming weekend, Memorial Day weekend, marks the start of summer. Schools are letting out, vacation plans are being made, and pools are being readied for a refreshing, entertaining time in the warmer months. What are your plans? Do they include others?  If so, who are you including in your summer plans? Who will you be sharing with this summer?

With so many social media outlets it is easy to keep up and communicate with your friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Yet, in this vast array of communication through social media is there not a lost art in our society? Not only an art but a built in communication need, built into each one of us by God Himself. The lost art I am speaking of is that of personal interaction, face to face (in person) interfacing with others. Not the momentary passing in the grocery aisle, or on the sidelines of children’s soccer and little league games. But real extended time with others, quality time, sharing in conversation and why not include some food.

As believers in Christ we have something to share – beyond ball games, food, and gardening tips. Summer is a great time to foster relationships and garner spending time together with others (fellowship). Anytime is a great time but summer affords so many outdoor opportunities, even in your own backyard. And food is always a great way to break down communication barriers. There is something about food that allows people to drop some of the communication defenses otherwise held.

So where do you begin? How do you get the ball of personal interfacing rolling? Why not start where you live? How well do you know your neighbors? Draw a tic-tac-toe board on a piece of paper and write your name in the center block. Then write the names of your neighbors in the surrounding blocks (the person who lives to your right in the middle right block, the person to the left in the middle left block, then continue in like manner). That is eight households you can get to know better in the next three months. And that is just the beginning. You can do the same for work, church, and other life’s avenues.

Start planning and inviting them for a cookout or simply a glass of tea or lemonade in your backyard or on your front porch. It is really that simple. But if you don’t start now, it will never happen. Live your life for Christ. Invite others into your life and watch to see God at work. Who knows you might get the opportunity to share what God is doing in your life. What an encouragement to others simply sharing of your life’s God experiences.

Start today and I’ll be watching for that light tuft of blue smoke coming from your grill, taking in that sweet aroma of food cooking, and listening for the joyous sounds of people communing together enjoying each others company. Personal interfacing with others is so much more enjoyable than the sound of thumbs on a mini keyboard. Plan some no-phone days in your summer personally interfacing with others. Enjoy those God has placed around you!

Guest Post

This week’s post is from a letter by Larry Cheek, Associational Missionary for Stone Mountain Baptist Association, GA.  For information on how your church or organization can benefit from the process mentioned please contact me, George Yates, at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

I am writing to commend to you the ministry of the Reverend George Yates and Son Care Ministries Inc. I had the privilege of meeting George almost three years ago when he was recommended to me by my good friend David Suddath of the Noonday Baptist Association in Marietta, GA as a conference leader.

George came and led a “Reaching the Summit” church health seminar for the leadership of our churches. His presentation was clear, concise and his communication skills were excellent! Following his presentation many of our ministers wanted to have him to come back and work specifically with their churches

Last year we contracted with him to work with four of our churches for the period of one year to “coach” them back to health. Each of these churches had been in decline for over 10 years with single digit baptisms. I am pleased to report that after going through the process, all are healthy and growing again this year with double digit baptisms!

The process George outlines in his book (Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church) is practical and gives any church and Pastor the tools they need to reverse decline in the church. Those four Pastors are now working with George, coming alongside 5 other churches in our association in “round two” of this process.

It is our intention to continue the journey of reaching the summit and multiply these efforts among the churches of our Association.  Your church, association, convention or denomination will benefit from the giftedness of this great coach and church leader!

Please feel free to call me if you have any questions about this ministry.

Serving Together!

Dr. Larry Cheek
Associational Missionary

Stone Mountain Baptist Association, Covington, GA

Every church at some point will face decline. It is inevitable. The first phases of decline are so subtle they often go unnoticed – in some cases they will go unnoticed for several years. I believe the declining trends of most churches can be eliminated and reversed. However, you must be willing to ask for help. Help is available, not only from SonC.A.R.E. Ministries, but other associations and judicatories, at local, state, and national levels.

In reaching the Summit we identify five phases of decline in churches and ministry organizations. The further in decline your church slips, the more diligence is required to reverse decline. Why wait until your church reaches phase four before asking for help? Many churches do. Don’t be like those ‘many’ churches. Pray about it today and call to speak with someone about assistance. These days most phone calls are free.

What will you do to help your church avoid or reverse any declining trends?



Choosing a Coach

Whether in your personal life, your ministry, or other organization having a coach assist and lead you to become more effective is always a plus with great benefits to you and those around you and your organization. Why not choose a coach to help you be the best you possible? However, be cautious and selective when searching out a coach.

There are differences between consultants and coaches. Not all consultants are coaches and not all coaches are consultants. To boil down the main differences use these two trains of thoughts:

Consultant – one who gathers, reviews, and interprets data, information and observations which he/she uses to advise and give suggestive direction for the church.

Coach – One who through a series of properly formulated questions guides church leaders to making well informed decisions based on information, facts, data, and observation. Coaching questions deal with the God-given resources, opportunities, and potential of the church.

The history of church consulting has been for the consultant to come into a church, spend a few days gathering information and interviewing members, writing a report, and delivering his report to the leadership of the church. With this rendering of the report, the consultant’s work is finished. The pastor now has the unfortunate pleasure of adding this to his already full plate of ministry demands on his time. In many cases this report gets placed on a shelf with the pastor’s intent to get around to it – in time.

It is my belief that a church should seek out a consultant or coach who is committed to seeing the planning and implementation processes through to the end with the church. Note: A consultant or coach cannot be with the church full time. However, a schedule can and should be established for the church and coach to communicate regularly and meet occasionally throughout the planning and implementation process. This is where a coach comes in stronger than a consultant. A gifted coach should be well versed in assisting the church in strategy planning. Consultants can give you the ideas. Coaches are trained to walk with you leading and guiding the pastor and church into a desired healthier position based on who they are and the gifts and resources provided by God.

Working through the processes outlined in Reaching the Summit, it is my belief that the most beneficial path for each church to undertake is to locate a coach who can and will commit to walk with you through each step of the process.

When seeking a church coach, church leaders should first discuss the needed experience and qualities the coach should possess for effectiveness with your particular church. Also, to be discussed is your expectations as a church (understanding these may need to be increased or decreased as you interview and select a coach for your situation.

Some information you will want to know to assist you in the exploration and selection of a coach includes:

  • Credentials – Just because someone calls himself a coach, does not make one a coach. What consulting/coaching experience, training, certifications does each potential candidate have? Again, certifications are not always the “yes” answer we are looking for. Effective and successful coaching experience is a greater indicator than a certificate.
  • The ministry experience of each candidate. (Is it varied or very specific? Which best fits your needs?) Some consultants are top notch with certain age groups or particular areas of church life (i.e. financial). However, they may not be ideal for an overall church coaching experience.

Ministry experience to consider:

    • Has he worked with similar size, culture, and demographics as our church?
    • Has he worked with churches in our denomination? I recently worked with a conservative church on the brink of closing who had worked with a consultant two years prior from a much more charismatic denomination. The recommendations in his report were based on his own knowledge base through his experience in his denomination. The result had been devastating for this particular church. We all work out of our own knowledge base. Be sure the doctrinal stance and beliefs of your consultant and coach are similar to those of your church.
    • What accomplishments in his ministry can the coach identify as God-driven for kingdom expansion?
  • Does the coach show genuine interest and enthusiasm for working with your church? You need at least one member of your church with the gift of discernment in the room when interviewing candidates. If you have a Human Resources person or someone who has studied and understands body language can help you in discerning. Observation and listening to the words of the candidate can tell you much. Is he more concerned with telling you what he can do (or has done) than hearing your story and asking questions pertaining to your situation?
  • Is the candidate’s character and personality one that appears to be a workable match with church leaders of your congregation? The most effective church coaches are confident, but humble understanding they are not the “savior” for your church.

This is only a beginning point, an introduction to exploring the possibilities and selecting a coach to assist your church through the Vigorous Face to Face Summit With Reality and the ensuing planning and implementation processes to a healthy and growing congregation for God. Certainly one place to look is within your denominational entities and judicatories (local, district, state and national organizations within your denomination).

For more information selecting a coach to work with you or your church contact George Yates and purchase your copy of Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church.


Making Good Decisions

Success comes by making a series of good decisions, one good decision at a time. Notice it is not only one decision and not one good decision. It is one good decision at a time. Success comes after a progression of making one good decision following a previous good decision following other good decisions. Success rarely if ever comes from one decision. Jim Collins in his book Good to Great says, “You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts.”

Perhaps you have seen video clips in movies or on television shows of a steam engine train taking off from a depot. You hear the water boiling and see the steam rolling and at the right time the engineer pulls a lever, and you hear that steam being transformed into energy, energy to turn the wheels on the train. It is then that you see the wheels turn slightly and ever so slowly. The engineer pulls again, the engine bellows, and the wheels turn again slightly and slowly. Another pull, and the wheels turn a little more and slightly faster. The actions are repeated again and again. Each time the wheels move with slightly more speed than the last. All the wheels turn simultaneously and each turn is faintly greater than the one before, each turn building momentum from the previous turn.

This process continues until the train is moving and generating speed and seemingly pulling its own weight. Momentum has kicked in and the train will continue to move down the track, headed for its destination. The wheels are now turning with ease. The engineer’s job now becomes maintaining the correct pressure on the boiler and as needed convert that steam into the energy needed to maintain the forward motion and speed of the train.

To make any significant change in your life or to reverse the decline in a church/organization requires not one turn of the ignition, but a series of good decisions, each one building upon previous decisions. Like the steam engine locomotive, it takes time and energy exercised in the right direction. All of the train’s wheels are always pulling in the same direction. To get the train moving, each blast of energy is pushing the wheels in the same direction. Every blast is for forward motion.

Develop a process for making decisions that will positively impact the forward progress of your life or the life of your church. Who will be involved in the decision making process? Who will be impacted by the decision? Even making decisions for your personal life impacts the lives of others. What could the decision impact negatively? What could the decision impact positively?

Three questions you can always ask in any decision making process:

  1. What is the absolute best outcome if we make this decision?
  2. What is the absolute worst outcome if we make this decision?
  3. Am I (Are we) willing to live with the answer to number 2?

Making good decisions to change your life and bring about a positive results can be a complete reformation for your life and he life of your organization. Learn to practice good decision making. Turn those negative, declining trends around and watch the positive results begin to reveal themselves.

For more information on Making Good Decisions contact George Yates and pick up your copy of Reaching the Summit.

What is That One Best Thing?

What is That One Best Thing?

In 2000 I read a book titled Calling. Perhaps my greatest take-away from that reading was a question: If there were no obstacles or barriers in front of you what one thing would you be doing for God? In other words if there were no financial or geographical barriers, if you had no physical limitations and no time constraints, how would you spend your life serving God? It is a great question, isn’t it? I began asking it to people from that point on. So, let me ask you to consider it as well; If there were no barriers or obstacles in front of you, what is the one thing you would be doing for God?

In the book Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church I reworded the question to assist churches in searching out the one thing their church could do better than anyone else. Like individuals, I believe every church has one thing they can do, one ministry they can engage in, better than the government, schools systems, better than any other civic or religious entity. In the book and working with churches I give some ideas on how to narrow the prospects down to one – what one thing can we do better than anyone else?

Working with various churches I have had churches begin partnerships with a particular school, people group, community ministry, community leaders or health professionals. In a recent meeting I had a member of a church (Reaching the Summit) health team state (after they had studied and discussed at length the possibilities); “We believe we can love others authentically.” That sounds pretty abstract and broad based so I followed with a question, as I often do. I asked the team from the church to explain that concept to me because I viewed it as very broad. I insisted that every person on the health team give me a reasonable support for how this was to be manifested and how they would be able to continue to lead and equip the entire church (today and future members) to live it and manifest it as the one best thing their church could do.

Somewhat surprisingly, the members shared of ongoing and one-time occasions where this was actually being manifested through their lives and the lives of others in their church. I began the last sentence with “Somewhat surprisingly” because we know the church is a friendly and loving church. However, every church I have ever been in believes they are a friendly church – and most are, at least among themselves.

This particular church is a young church with mostly young families and was located on the town square of about a 20,000 member community until November of last year when they moved out to a rural site about 7 miles north of the town. In that time they have doubled in size (not in the city but away from the populated area)). They were not a large church. They were not a wealthy church. But they are a loving church. They have decided the one thing they can do better than anyone else is Love Others Authentically. And they are proving they can. One way to see that this is being manifested is by the growing attendance in five months from averaging 55 in the city, to 107 in a rural setting.

In conversations with individuals and in meetings with church health teams, I ask a follow up question. When I ask the initial question’ If there were no barriers or obstacles in front of you, what is the one thing you would be doing for God? I wait for a response. After the person(s) respond, I ask, “Why aren’t you doing it? If God is as big as we say He is and as powerful as we say, Isn’t He capable of removing any barriers in our way?” God’s Calling on your life is to carry out His desire through the passion He has given you using the skills, gifts, and abilities with which you have been blessed. So what is that One Best Thing?

To find out more about this topic read Reaching the Summit (chapter nine) and contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.


Are You Ready to Rebuild?

It has been said that one will never rebuild until he or she comes to the point of weeping over the ruins. Tragically, many of us are simply never grieved or burdened about the broken down walls and burned gates in our ministry or even in our own lives. When you read this, do you think of how long it has been since you wept and fasted over broken down walls in your life?

In the book of Nehemiah in the Bible when Nehemiah heard the report from his brother and others about the condition of Jerusalem, its broken down walls and burned gates, his passion index raised. Nehemiah states in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the book, that when he heard this news he sat down and wept, fasted, and prayed for several days. The news was devastating to Nehemiah. He was overcome with emotion concerning the condition of the ancestral city of his forefathers. Nehemiah ‘s passion index was raised. What does it take for your passion index to raise enough to have the desire to rebuild? Have you come to the point of weeping over broken down walls in your life?

Have you come to the point of weeping over the condition of your life, your business, marriage, church, or even your nation? If you’ve not come to the point of weeping over the condition, how can you expect to begin a truly rewarding rebuilding process? Is your church experiencing less attendance, fewer baptisms, smaller financial gifting than in previous years. If your church is experiencing any of these it is likely you are in decline. More than 80 percent of our churches across North America today are in a state of decline. With this many churches in decline, we are well beyond epidemic proportions.

If Nehemiah had not identified with the needs of the city of his fathers, a city which he had never seen or visited, the book of Nehemiah would never have been written. Nehemiah would never have left the comforts of the king’s palace. Jerusalem would have remained in ruins until God raised up another leader. Thank God for Nehemiah’s heart for the things of God and his Godly character. Nehemiah was about to take on a daunting task that was far beyond anything he had ever been part of. But he would accept the challenge without question because he was following the direction of God almighty. When you and I follow God as did Nehemiah, we do not see a challenge before us. We see our next act of obedient service to God. And God will provide and deliver.

The need is not about what has happened or about rebuilding the Past. The need is about finding your place and purpose in moving God’s kingdom work forward. It is not working against the manifestation of God’s direction, but about fulfilling the purpose for which you were created. The daunting task which Nehemiah accepted was accomplished in a timeframe that even today would be impossible. Through God’s direction and His divine assistance the mess was cleaned up, the walls rebuilt and the gates (all 12 of the gates) were restored with all new material in 52 days. Incredible!

It all started with one man who came to the point of weeping over broken down walls. Are you ready to begin the rebuilding process in your life, your church?

For more information on Nehemiah’s challenges read the book which bears his name in the Holy Bible, and purchase your copy of Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church, and contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.



Break for Reset

This principle can be a life-changer for every person on earth. Learning and practicing this one principle will bring a sweeter life and eliminate frustrations. It crosses over into every area of life whether leading a team, an entire organization, tackling a plumbing project, or working a puzzle in the privacy of your own home. Practice this God-given principle for peace of mind and renewed focus.

Perhaps it is built into leaders, this drive to go, go, go billowing at a project like a fast moving monorail train that has no brake for slowing or stopping. Do not get me wrong, I believe we need to keep the train moving forward and build momentum along the way. However, I believe successful leaders understand – or have someone to help them understand that in most planning and decision making projects there comes a time when a break is needed. One principle I have learned, practiced, and try to pass on to others is that of Break for Reset. We can get so involved and wrapped up in looking at a project or situation from a particular vantage point that we can miss opportunities for greater potential.

I have on occasion advised my wife to stop working on a particular project if she was becoming frustrated and could not come to a solution. And no, I’m not speaking of having difficulty with her husband. One instance in particular was balancing a bank statement that had her frustrated and ready to throw in the proverbial towel. My advice was to set it aside and come back to the bank statement later or even the next day. When she came back to it she found the resolution and was finished within five minutes. I have done the same on many occasions – walk away and come back later – take a break and come back refreshed with a renewed and reset mind. Following a break for rest and coming back with a clear mind it is amazing how clearly and simple an answer comes to some situations that seemed nearly impossible earlier.

My wife and I were laying hardwood flooring in our bedroom. This was not our first time as we had laid hardwood flooring in two other rooms in this particular house and a 400 square foot room in a previous house. We had been working all day on this room and came to the last strip of flooring. Each piece needed to be cut length wise and fitted not only along the edge of the wall but around the base of two French doors as well. I ran into a situation – how to get the last two pieces in as one would need to be locked into place and tapped under the door trim and the other fitted into a corner. I thought and thought, measured and contemplated. It was a real dilemma. It was late and we were both tired. We decided to stop for the night and finish the final two pieces the next day. I took a short break then began cleaning up the room while my wife was in another part of the house. About a half hour later I was almost finished picking up and putting things away when the solution to my situation came to me clear as the ringing of a bell.

The longer I stayed in the mode of trying to solve the issue, the more tunneled in thought I became. But once I stopped thinking about it and gave my mind a needed rest, the answer came, without me trying to process it. To give her the credit, my wife recommended a similar solution forty-five minutes earlier that evening. But, I was so tunneled in my own thought processes that her suggestion did not register.

Taking a break to reset can be invaluable to your leadership, your family, and your own mental and emotional stability. We all need to step away from situations and projects to clear our minds and reset our thinking processes. When something has you so wrapped up, take a break. Do not think about that project for a period of time. Force yourself if you need to, to put it out of your mind and think on something more pleasant and enjoyable. Your mind cannot reset if you continue to think about the issue needing resolution. Take a break and reset for a clear perspective. And if you need to, make sure someone in your circle of influence has your permission to tell you to break and reset as Leigh Ann did for her husband Tim in chapter twelve of Turnaround Journey. Capture this principle – Break for Reset – and you will be able to use it in each and every area of your life.  Life is so much sweeter when we learn to use and practice God-given principles.

To learn more about the principle of breaking for reset purchase your copy of Turnaround Journey and contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.


The First 3 Things to Plan

If you were planning to take a trip, a journey, this summer, what are three of the first things you would need to plan? Perhaps you said where to, who is going, how will you get there? There are many things to consider; why this destination? What is your objective, rest, relaxation, sight-seeing, visiting historical sights? When we plan a trip with our family we consider these and many more. In churches and other organizations we plan as well. However, there is a big difference in planning and strategic planning for effective results.

In the church for instance I often hear of how much we gave. Assisting churches to find where their true focus is I often hear responses as; “We gave away 150 backpacks.” Or “We handed out 300 bottles of water at the community festival.” While these efforts are worthy of our time and resources they are not necessarily fulfilling the mission of the church, The Great Commission. You can hand out 300 bottles of water without once sharing the gospel. In fact the pastor of one church I was working with came to the conclusion, “There is nothing we have been doing in our booth that an atheist in the very next booth could not do.”

This pastor realized his church was doing social ministry, not sharing the story of Christ – fulfilling the Great Commission. Each year this church held planning meetings, involved several members of the congregation and encouraged every member to be involved in the community festival. They contributed to the festival, participated in the two day festival in a church sponsored booth. They were giving away free “stuff” all weekend. Yet, they were not sharing Jesus. The pastor and members of his church came to the conclusion that while they were involved and participating, they were not acting as a New Testament church. Unfortunately, many of our churches are playing this scenario in their communities – and believe they are doing it in the name of Christianity. It might be in the name of Christianity, but it is in name only and it does not match up with what we read in the book of Acts.

When you plan for a trip, if you are going to drive, you plan your route. How are you going to get to your destination. You plan which roads to take and what you will see along the way. You identify signs, cities, and sights you will encounter along the way. On your trip you watch for those particular roads, signs, and attractions. These are destination indicators. They are indicators that you are traveling in the right direction. (See Turnaround Journey)

As a church when you plan, plan for results – effective results that move you toward your destination. As the church your ultimate destination should be to fulfill the Great Commission; make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to observe all the things of God in Christ Jesus. Not only plan for effective results, you need to build in destination indicators so that along the journey you can identify that you are truly being effective and moving in the right direction.

What are the first three things you need to build into your planning for effective ministry? Be sure they include destination indicators along the journey.

Destination indicators are only one element of a successful equation laid out in Turnaround Journey. Most churches never build in destination indicators or other factors that you would never dream of leaving out of planning and implementing for a trip with your family. For more information on strategic planning and implementation for effective results contact George Yates and purchase your copy of Turnaround Journey, available at Amazon, Barnes&, SonC.A.R.E. Ministries, and other on-line retailers.

Involve Everyone in the Process

One of the dynamics of small groups is involvement. Whether you are teaching a Bible study or working with a team, getting everyone involved is important. If you only want yes people, people to rubberstamp your ideas, you do not need a team. You only need a few people who can nod their head up and down. But if you want and value input, realizing God speaks to others and that you may not have all the ideas, all the answers, then you’ll need to use approaches that assist and insures every person’s involvement in discussions and debate. Everyone’s involvement carries beneficial results as it engages each person’s higher order thought processes, allows everyone to be heard, produces learning, and brings cohesiveness and agreement through thought and discussion.

When recruiting and assembling a team it is important to inform those being recruited that their thoughts and ideas are not only important but valuable, desired, and necessary for the team to accomplish its goals. When speaking with pastors and other organization leaders about selecting persons to be recruited for a church health team or a planning team, I suggest the following criteria. The people you want and need on this team need to be open-minded, forward thinking, positive people who will share their thoughts and opinions and listen to all others with open mindedness as well. This information should be shared with each person as he/she is being recruited. They need to know the expectations up front, before they agree to serve with you on a team.

Acquiring each person’s input on a particular subject can be as simple as going around the room allowing each person time to share, starting at one end of the room let’s say the person on your right, and moving around the room until every person has been given a chance to voice his/her thoughts. This approach works and is okay in some formats for particular situations. However, you will receive better discussion and draw to a right decision when you learn to foster healthy debate across the team. (see blog post on Healthy Debate & read chapter seven in Turnaround Journey)

When you go around the room calling on each person to respond, they are likely to give their own thoughts and opinions. Team members will not often speak to one another persons ideas. Each person wants his or her ides to be heard. On the other hand, when you as a leader encourage healthy debate team members will discuss pros and cons of each person’s ideas, tweaking, building on, and adding to the ideas that they believe to be a better fit for the organization. This healthy debate will lead the team to a cohesive conclusion and suggestion for moving forward toward implementation within the organization.

There are several ways to encourage and spark healthy debate. Perhaps one of the simplest ways is to throw out a question probing the higher order thought processes of each person in the room. When the first person responds, wait a few seconds to see if someone replies, counters, or adds to the first response. If so your debate has begun. If no one replies to the first response, spark the debate with a second question. “What does everyone else think about that idea?” You can follow up with, “What other ideas do you have?” or “What are other ways we could…?” As the leader, you are the catalyst to move the debate forward. However, be careful not to give your own thoughts on the subject too early. This is a debate closer and you will miss out on good debate and likely miss other good or even greater ideas and suggestions. (see blog post titled The Leader Speaks Last)

Another benefit of insuring the involvement in the discussion of every team member is to come to that conclusion with solidarity. In a situation where every person on the team has had the opportunity to share his/her ideas and thoughts and all have provided input into the suggested conclusion, no one can leave the room and claim, “It’s not what I wanted, but…” A team should always come to a right conclusion and leave the team meeting with unity of purpose, in agreement for moving forward with the team’s decision.

Learn to involve and engage every person on your team or in your Bible study for a more productive implementation of truths learned and effective practices within the organization. For more information on involving everyone in the process contact George Yates and purchase your copy of Turnaround Journey today.

The Need for Overarching Themes & Goals

Every church needs an overarching objective. I believe it is a good practice to set a new overarching objective every year, perhaps even more often if you have a set time, criteria, and goals and accomplish those in a shorter time frame. An overarching theme or objective is determined by the church leaders by answering one question; “If we could only work on one thing (objective) for the next year (nine months, six months, etc.) what one thing would that be?”

Answering this question and narrowing to only one main objective will require discussion with the right people in the room. It may require more than one meeting. In one church when I introduced this concept to the church leaders (staff & deacon chair), we listed several ideas on a tear sheet and let each person give reason for why that should be our overarching theme for the remaining seven months of the year. Everyone left the meeting with the assignment to contemplate and pray for direction of which of the seven or eight ideas to select as our overarching objective.

When we came back together the following week, there were two of the ideas on everyone’s mind. We realized the two were actually connected and by working on either one, we would also be developing the other.  We concluded our discussion by choosing one and then began strategizing how to effectively implement improvements in this area throughout the organization of ministry.

Before proper strategic planning can take place though, your overarching theme needs to be turned into a goal – an overarching goal for the entire ministry organization – not only the pastor and staff. I refer to the Overarching Goal as the “OG.” In the book Turnaround Journey Calvert City Community Church begins their turnaround journey by selecting families as their overarching theme. The theme of families can take on a very wide spectrum of ministry and thoughts of what “family” includes. So before the team can proceed they must develop a goal for ministry to families for their church. Since it is to be an overarching goal it must be strong enough to support the fulfillment of the Great Commission and broad enough to be executed by all ministries within the church.

An Overarching Goal (OG) based on an overarching theme must include the theme as well as other elements of a goal. When setting a goal you need a “from here to where by when” (here + where x when=goal). In other words you must first determine where you are today, currently in regards to your goal relating to your theme. If your overarching theme is spiritual maturity for your congregation you need to have an understanding of where your people are at today. That is your from here.

Next you need a to where. Where is it you would like for your people to be at the end of your timeframe? Realistically, what should you expect from your people in the area of spiritual growth? TO determine a fitting to where, you must first determine a way to measure such growth. Is it measurable. If not, then you need to rethink your theme. Once you have a style of measure you can set your to where.

Your by when is simply selecting a date to accomplish your from here to where. I There are many other built in calendar dates a church can use as well. Example: Easter, the start of the new church year, or school start or finish dates.

The strategic planning dies not end with the setting of an Overarching Goal. That is the beginning point. If you want to implement for true Great Commission success begin with setting an overarching Goal. For more on this and the other steps for effective strategic planning and implementation pick up your copy of Turnaround Journey and contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

Life is a journey and your church is on a journey. Why not set the next leg of your church’s journey on course for a more productive and effective beautiful journey.