Strategizing for the District

Since being appointed to serve within the Topeka District of the Great Plains Annual Conference, I have had the opportunity to serve as the lead for the Topeka District Strategy Team. I have been learning as I go, seeking to get to know congregations and leaders of the area. Here are some of my current thoughts on how this team can be most effective to create a strategy for the district.

During some years in the past, the Great Plains Annual Conference (and three conferences) has operated with a structure that encouraged local churches to send both people and resources to be part of initiatives and ministry efforts that originated and were executed at the annual conference level. This lead to a measure of success. However, this model is not working as effectively as it once was.

In recent years, there has been efforts made to push the resourcing and leadership “down” from the annual conference toward the mission field of local churches. Some of this is being accomplished with the creation of Networks which connect local churches to more effectively reach their collective mission field. It also is being accomplished through the work of district strategy teams which work alongside the District Superintendent to develop a strategy to reach the mission field within the district.

What does not need to happen is for a district strategy team to come up with a layer of strategy, events and planning which local churches are encouraged to add to their existing ministries and goals. Instead, I believe that a more effective approach will be to look for common goals that exist among many congregations in the district and consider what resources or strategies that district can bring to bear which support those goals.

As part of the charge conference process, goals are developed and turned in annually from every charge in the district. This fall, we are running an experiment by offering local churches goals to consider for 2019 (Experiment_ Topeka District Local Church Goals (PDF)). If churches have an existing process for developing and iterating on goals, great – keep doing it. However, if they do not, they might consider one or more of these goals for the year ahead. The purpose here is to help local churches make progress on goal setting and create the opportunity for local churches to coalesce around similar goals. We’ll see how this goes…

Regardless of whether or not local churches choose from the experimental goals which were offered to them, our next step will be to review the goals from all the churches in the district to see what, if any, similarities there are. Then, create strategies to help support local churches in the goals that they have already set for themselves.

I am hopeful that this approach will support local churches and more effectively coordinate our efforts together as a district.

Strategic Pruning: Senior Staff Retreat (2 of 4)

View of the Great Plains near Lincoln, Nebraska
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The conversation around the  Call to Action: Reordering the Life of the UMC and the subsequent UMC Leadership Summit, as well as the conversation in Kansas and Nebraska about Great Plans for the Great Plains: A Vision (PDF Link), I have been reflecting on the time that I spent on the spring senior staff retreat at Resurrection in which we read together, Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results.

If your organization is strategically planning, it is also important to strategically prune.

When have you or your church stopped doing something good so that you could do something better and better align with God’s work in the world?

Speedlinking – June 18, 2010

PlanCruncher: Make Sense of Your Plan

I have really enjoyed leading Resurrection Online and trying out new ideas. Sometimes I have a hard time explaining what is in my head. I found a great website that helps distill thoughts to a one page plan. I first read about this concept at Visualize your business plan with Plan Cruncher and then went to try it out myself at http://plancruncher.com.

While not specifically designed for churches, I found it helpful in getting a fresh look on Resurrection Online Micro Churches.

Plan Cruncher – I recommend it.

Adventures in Ministry – April 23, 2009

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be a part of a worship design retreat. It was a varied group of campus pastors, worship venue leads, pastors and others that came and went over the course of the weekend. It was time away from normal settings at Heartland Presbyterian Center – close to Parkville, Missouri.

The senior pastor had been brainstorming an outline of sermon series through 2010. For each of the series we took a look at unifying elements:

  1. Objective – aim of the series
  2. Hook – The ‘so what’; The thing that draws people in
  3. Tone – The feel, the emotional center of the series

I found it to be an overall effective exercise. We gained clarity around series’ through the end of 2009.

Senior Staff Retreat – Day 1

This morning I am headed with the team of senior staff at Resurrection to a retreat center in Missouri about 90 minutes away. I love to get away with other members of the staff to spend time together and dream about the future of the church. According to the last email update, here is the plan…

By consensus, the thrust of our time together will be to step away from the demands of our usual work to do three things:

  • We will breathe, pray, reflect and be spiritually refreshed.
  • We will form tighter, lasting, deeper relationships with one another.
  • We will sharpen ourselves as leaders in God’s church.

This will be more of a retreat, in every sense of the word. There will be less time on future planning and more about just being together. I am looking forward to it.

I want to be an excellent strategic planner.

Where are you going?

How do you get there?

These are key questions for individuals and for congregations that are essential for strategic planning. I have learned the practice of annual goals as an employee and annual strategic goals for the congregation while here at Resurrection. As Stephen Covey would suggest, begin with the end in mind. I have found that setting a measurable goal with a target date to be effective in helping me move forward in ministry and in my personal development. I hope to continue to grow in this area and utilize this skill set in the arenas to which God calls me.

I believe that this will be an important role no matter what future church setting I might find myself in.

  • What have you found to be helpful in this area?
  • Are there any resources or events that you would recommend?

Over the past three days, I have highlighted some of the characteristics that I hope to develop as a church leader. I am interested in your thoughts and passion. What are characteristics as a leader that you would like to develop?