Fall is here. I love being outside. Each season has a special quality and distinguishing characteristics. I love to hunt, so fall is a special time. But, I love to be out in the woods and pastures even on a rainy day, not only for the hunt. I love being outdoors with the creator, enjoying the beauty of his creation.
Fall is also a time when churches and other organizations are looking ahead to the future, making plans for the next year. Unfortunately, it is this planning that often falls short and causes organizations to not reach its effectiveness. Churches (and organizations) plan, but few know how to strategically plan for greater effectiveness. Greater than previous years.
The belief in many churches and organizations is if we plan and carry out those plans we have accomplished some “great thing.” However, accomplishing what you set out to may not be the best course of action. Many organizations (churches) flounder year after year seeing less results than previously. Yet, we accept these results and pass the blame on the economy, or other factors of which we have no control over.
Our planning should include accepting responsibility for what we can control and strategically plan to be the absolute best using every God-given gift at our disposal. Too often we stay in our own little box, even during extreme planning retreats.
Working with church leaders in one such retreat last fall, the team had listed four areas that could be their “one focus” for 2017. Out of the four they settled on one. Following this decision they had a healthy 20 minute discussion and were seemingly pleased with the direction they were headed. As a coach, I had heard something in their conversation and posed one question to the group. Each face around the table showed concern and quizzical attraction to the question.
This led to another 20 minute discussion – in a different direction. The team’s discussion led them to an entirely different focal topic for the year. At the end of that discussion and ensuing sessions, team members realized and announced, “If you (George) had not asked that one question, we would have been on the wrong track in every session. We would have left here and gone back and led our church in an irrelevant course all year.”
I am called upon each year to assist leadership teams in a vision planning retreat. These retreats are designed to guide the leadership team of an organization (church) to dig deeper than they might on their own. Digging deeper to find the one best focus for their particular organization for one year.
Not only do we find the focus, we lay out a road map for the journey, building in check points and driving gauges that can be reviewed anytime along the journey to see progress and make needed adjustments. The team identifies destination indicators and possible distractions to assist the organization in achieving its goals and effective performance.
The church mentioned above laid out their plan, implemented it and by the third week of January, they were seeing results and “It has become the talk of the church!”
The steps to this type of vision planning are laid out in the book Turnaround Journey.