Planning for Your Ministry

To articulate a clear plan I suggest you address these questions, in this order.

  1. Why? This describes your VALUES.

Why do you care? Identify your values (operational and/or aspirational), motivations, desires and drivers. This is the best description of your identity as an organisation. Over time, your values shape your reputation with outsiders.


  1. What then? This describes your VISION.

What do you hope the future will be like? Of all the available possibilities – you may need to do some work to enumerate these – which one grips you? Your vision is an imaginative scenario in which your values are given full expression. For practical purposes it is best to focus on the medium term rather than the distant future.


  1. What now? This describes your MISSION.

What is the contribution you will make to that vision? In a nutshell, what is the big thing you are going to do? A realistic mission statement takes into account that inspiring visions are not achieved alone. Others will take their part. What is your part?


  1. How? This describes your STRATEGY.

How will you carry out your mission? How will you break down your overarching mission into its constituent parts? How will you set your priorities so that the main thing is not lost? How do your strategies relate to your vision and values?


  1. When, who and where? This describes your OPERATIONS.

When will you carry out your strategies? Who will be responsible for them? Where will that happen? When will you evaluate your efforts? Who will you need on the team? Where will the resources come from? These are questions of implementation and must come after the first four questions are answered satisfactorily.


What else have you found is helpful in expressing an empowering ministry plan?

Setting a Course for Mission

Where are we going? Being a leader in mission is not simply a matter of answering that question. It is more importantly a matter of guiding the process by which the team discerns the answer together.

If the leader gets that right, the chances are much higher of:

  • Making and impact rather than just drifting along
  • Staying on course rather than suffering ‘mission creep’
  • Getting ‘buy-in’ from team members and harnessing the synergy that comes from alignment

Consider these seven qualities of an effective missional planning process:

  1. Prayerful

Take your time in God’s presence in worship, listening, interceding. Set the course in line with your best understanding of where God is taking things. ‘I do what I see the Father doing’, says Jesus.

  1. Contextual

Start from where you actually are. Not where someone else is, or where you wish you were. What is the current situation? Do your homework.

  1. Long-sighted

Keep an eye on the impact the course you set will have after you are no longer personally involved. What legacy will you leave for others to build on?

  1. Synergistic

Think carefully about the system of which you are a part. What are the organisational ‘givens’ that deserve respect? Resist operating as a ‘Lone Ranger’. If the way you operate damages someone else’s mission, you’re out of order.

  1. Consultative

Tap into the wisdom and discernment of those on your team. This isn’t necessarily democracy – having a say is not the same thing as having a vote. Make sure you also consider wise external voices.

  1. Clear

Communication is essential to setting any course of action. Make sure you communicate the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’, the ‘how’, the ‘when’, the ‘where’ and the ‘who’. Ensure the communication has the same meaning in every setting, is accessible for each audience, and able to be reviewed. This usually means it is written down.

  1. Flexible

Every course set must be subject to deliberate and scheduled review and evaluation and adjusted accordingly. It helps to have levels of negotiability: values the least negotiable, strategies somewhat negotiable, tactics the most negotiable of all.


What would you add to this list from what you have learned so far about leading planning processes for mission?