When people enter your church, do they sense a clear mission and direction? Is it immediately obvious that the church has a focus and goal behind its existence?
The purpose of administration is to build a successful, thriving church centered on glorifying God to the very best of our abilities. And if a pastor does not have clear leading from the Lord, he will not be able to communicate clear leadership to his flock. These simple, key elements of planning and organization will be of great assistance to anyone striving to become an effective leader.
Plan for Success
The phrase, “failing to plan is planning to fail,” is true and will almost always come back to haunt the careless or procrastinating person. I’ve also heard once that the problem with a failure to set clear goals in advance is that you end up running up and down the field without ever scoring. Luke 14:28 clearly reiterates this principle: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it.”
When planning, it is very important to establish the difference between long-and short-term goals and to maintain a balanced approach to both. If we focus solely on the long-term, we will quickly become discouraged and overwhelmed. If the short-term goals are all we think about, we may become distracted or delayed by minutia. Neither of these approaches will help us succeed. We need to establish a long-term goal, then set short-term goals (and systematically complete them) in order to be successful in our desired task.
State Your Church’s Mission
Mission can be defined as an organization’s fundamental purpose for existence. Years ago, I worked with hospital administration to better their services. One of the first things I would do was seek to establish a mission for them. Many times, they were just “a mile wide and an inch deep.” They were trying to do everything and be everything to everybody, but in the end, they were not really doing anything well. Often, the same thing can happen in churches. It is vital that every organization have a clear mission and goal.
At Lancaster Baptist Church, Pastor Chappell emphasizes keeping “the main thing, the main thing.” And our main thing is soulwinning. That is our mission. At West Coast Baptist College, the mission statement is “training laborers for His harvest.” That is a great mission statement. Everything accomplished in a successful institution will revolve around its mission. Once you have established your mission, you are ready for the real work to begin.
Establish a Vision
Know where you are going and why. Establishing a clear vision provides a roadmap for the future of your church. Regardless of how wonderful any mission statement is, it will never be fulfilled without a clear, detailed vision for the future. The vision of any organization or group should be set by the head and final authority. The biblical church’s head is Christ, and the pastor is the under-shepherd.
It is vital to ensure that you, as the pastor, are not out of step with God. Don’t get ahead of Him. Evaluate if you are following God’s leading, not simply your feelings or personal desires. A great pastor will always be asking God what He wants. And as you seek God’s heart for the future vision, the following process will be invaluable in helping you pray in ways that are both concrete and specific.
Strengths. List the core competencies and areas of unique, beneficial resources in your church.
Weaknesses. Look objectively at your church for areas that have a lack of resources, skills, manpower, or performance.
Opportunities. Name events, situations, and circumstances that could help your church grow and advance the cause of Christ.
Threats. Analyze surroundings and circumstances that could hinder or obstruct the growth and productivity of your church.
From this point on, it will be much easier to categorize and prioritize your initiatives. It should now be clear in which direction the church should move. Now you can downsize your long-term strategies into smaller, accountable, manageable action items.