Strategic planning is so 2001.

Seriously, the late 1990’s and early 2000’s saw a shift away from pure long-term strategic planning. Corporations recognized that technology’s effect on the business environment was an accelerated pace of change. Logically what followed was that any strategic plans beyond three months into the future were not helpful.

So how does an organization move forward without a strategic plan? Do we just “wing it?” Of course not. Planning and strategy are and always will be necessary. But the era of the relatively stable environment in which external forces stay the same and predictable does not exist anymore. Planning, therefore, must change too.

The shift away from “we must create a long-term strategic plan” is good news for churches. Especially during a pandemic. As churches try to figure out “where to next?” the goal does not have to be a long and involved plan. Instead, church leaders need to aim for agility. Agility, or the ability to adapt rapidly, is the new strategic advantage. 

The shift away from “we must create a long-term strategic plan” is good news for churches. Click To Tweet

What does it mean for a church to be agile? Churches must “gird their loins,” meaning they need to be ready to move quickly. Literally, it means to wrap a belt around your waist so that your clothes don’t flop around. As churches, it means we must free ourselves from those things that “flop around” and keep us from moving quickly. As churches, our “belt” is self-awareness, saliency, and simplicity

Agility, or the ability to adapt rapidly, is the new strategic advantage.  Click To Tweet

A church that is self-aware knows who it is. It understands what parts of its identity to let go of, what parts to keep, and what parts need to morph into new ways of being moving forward.

Saliency is a lens through which a church determines which beloved material things can be left in the past and which must be brought forward and perhaps used in new ways toward the desired future.

Simplicity deals with thinking critically about the practices of the church. What aspects of what we do – and how we do it – can be let go of, or be made more flexible, so that ministry can be emergent and in the moment?

Self-awareness, saliency, and simplicity get a church to the place of “mission-critical.” Agility necessitates a lightness of existence, unencumbered by the superfluous. 

Agility necessitates a lightness of existence, unencumbered by the superfluous.  Click To Tweet

The ways churches carry out Jesus’ mission have changed, but the mission has not. My colleague, an older pastor of a small church, when asked the hardships of “pivoting” to online worship during the pandemic exclaimed, “It’s the gospel!” It still is, and the churches still exist in service to it.

Gird your loins, church. 

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