Discerning and Implementing Strategic Priorities for Your Ministry

  • 1 April 2015
  • Randy Wollf

prioritiesDo you want to take your ministry to the next level? Are you unclear as to next steps? I have found the following process helpful for discerning and implementing strategic priorities that will help a ministry build momentum toward a desired future.

Proceed Prayerfully

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of bathing the entire discernment process in prayer. As you go through the following steps, take time to pray periodically and to practice (and encourage others to practice) a posture of listening to God’s voice.

Clarify Your Mission

In a previous blog, Six Steps to Creating a Compelling Mission Statement for Your Group, I describe a process for identifying your group’s mission. If you don’t have a mission statement for your ministry yet, I would encourage you to read the blog and create one. It’s difficult to discern meaningful strategic priorities without an overarching goal in mind.

Articulate Core Values

What do you think are your ministry’s core values (this is a good exercise to do with your ministry team)? What do you think that your ministry should value? Come up with a list of 6-8 current and desired values that you believe are foundational to your ministry. One way to do this is to have your team brainstorm adjectives or phrases that describe the current ministry. Then, have them think about their dream ministry and go through the same brainstorming process.

Discern God’s Vision for Your Ministry

With your ministry team, project yourself into the future. It is five years from now and you have, amazingly enough, developed the most incredible ministry. Now, it’s your job, as a team, to describe it - as if you were able to see it, realistically around you. Make sure that you use your ministry’s core values from the previous step. It’s also very important that your emerging vision aligns with your mission.

Identify Strategic Priorities

Now, that you are clear on your ministry’s mission, core values and vision, you can identify strategic priorities. What are the steps you need to take to realize your vision? Identify three to five big objectives (e.g. develop a mentoring approach). For each objective, come up with SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) goals that will help you make progress with each objective (e.g. hold a one-day training session on how to coach others on June 20).

Execute the Plan

Make sure that you have a system in place for monitoring progress on accomplishing the strategic priorities. This could be as simple as your ministry team reviewing progress on the priorities on a monthly basis and then modifying the SMART goals, as necessary. As you accomplish your strategic priorities, discern new ones that will help you live out God’s vision for your ministry even more.

As you can see, the process of discerning strategic priorities requires knowing and embracing God’s vision for the ministry. This sense of direction will not only help you discern next steps, it will help empower you to take those next steps during the executing phase.