In yesterday’s post we discussed the need for a strategic plan for your youth ministry and we got deeper into the first two steps ok making one: gathering info and analyzing this info. Today we’ll discuss the next steps.
Step 4: Choose priorities
Once you’ve gathered and analyzed all the info, you’ll need to choose priorities. Chances are, these will have become self-evident in the analytic phase. If not, look at your mission statement and your vision statement and determine what needs to be done next to come closer to achieving that main goal. Let’s say your goal is to reach students with the gospel. You know the most effective way is for their Christian friends and classmates to share the gospel. But the students in your youth ministry aren’t actively sharing their faith, even though most of them have made a decision for Christ. That means your priority should be to get your students to the point where they will share their faith. Now you have your priority.
Formulate these priorities into goals and make these goals your main focus for the next two or three years. That’s your ‘SHOULD BE’ situation.
Step 5: Formulate your goals
Let’s say you’ve discovered that your small groups are your weakness because they’re more about fun than about discipleship. One of your priorities will then be to transform the small groups into discipleship-oriented small groups. Yet this goal is still fairly vague, because what exactly is meant by ‘discipleship-oriented small groups’? Goals are best when formulated SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-related.
I’d advise you to choose about three main priorities and formulate them SMART. That doesn’t mean that anything outside these areas gets eliminated, it just means that you will focus your efforts and your resources here (use the 80/20 rule!).
Step 6: Determine actions
By now you have insight into what the current status of your youth ministry is, what the underlying causes are and you know where you want to go. The question is now how to get there. There are many ways in which you can transform your small groups, so you’ll need to take the time to list all alternatives and pick the best ones. Usually, a focused brainstorm with your leaders works best here to get the creative juices flowing, come up with as many ideas as possible and then pick a few that you all think will work.
This action plan (sometimes also called an operational plan) can actually change yearly, where as the strategic goals will remain for more than one year. If you find out something doesn’t work, toss it overboard and try something else. The most important thing is that you achieve your goals, the how can and should be flexible.
There is another side to this however. You will be tempted to use all the new ideas you got from the conference you attended a few months ago or from all the inspiring books you’ve read. But if you cram all these new ideas into a strategic plan for one season, it will become impossible to carry out. Spread them out, try a few each year to see what works for you. And: resist the temptation to follow every trend that comes along.
Step 7: Write it all down
All you need to do now to finish your strategic plan is write everything you’ve discovered and decided down. Personally, I’ve sent this document to all my leaders asking for their comments or input before making it official. It’s just one more step in making sure you get everyone’s support in carrying out the plan.
Step 8: Communicate
You can write the best strategic plan in the world for your youth ministry, but if your leaders don’t know it, if you yourself don’t use it to guide your actions and decisions, it absolutely useless. You have to communicate your plan and not just once. If you’ve done you work on the plan as described above, your leaders should know about the strategic plan generally. Now make sure they know the key priorities and how this affects their roles and responsibilities. In every meeting, refer back to the plan and take some time to evaluate how you’re doing.
That’s it, you’re now done with your strategic plan for your youth ministry. Like I said, it’s a time consuming process, but one that gives you very valuable insights and hopefully also a whole bunch of fresh new ideas and a clear goal to get working on. May God bless you as you carry out His goals!
Have you ever made a strategic plan for your youth ministry? How did you go about it? Do you have any insights or experiences you’d like to share?