December 30th, 2010

11 High-Impact Planning Ideas for Senior Pastors for the New Year

#1 Write down your top 12 leaders and an action-item bullet point for each one. How can you invest in each this year? How will you spend time with them? What tools do they need? Do they require more support, direction, coaching or delegation? Don’t just look at your existing structure, look to who is emerging.

#2 Schedule a benchmarking trip to visit a church that’s 40% larger in weekend attendance than yours. Ask the church to invest team-on-team time and connect one-on-one in the designated staff areas.

#3 Take the Clarity Quiz in your first staff meeting this year. Use the quiz to prioritize a single staff goal for the next 90 days. Make the goal big, measurable, and define how each person will contribute.

#4 Schedule an offsite leadership retreat and make it a bigger event than in years past. Draw a pie cart for how much time to spend on fun stuff vs. strategic work. Delegate agenda development for each side of the pie chart or brainstorm the agenda with your key leaders in early January.

#5 Schedule an “hour of vision” in your monthly meeting pattern. Creating space for teams to have dialogue and to shape and own the vision is a huge move for the senior leader. Ask them a simple questions like, “What was your favorite thing about last year and how to we do more of it?” Or, ask them creative questions like, “If someone wrote a $25,000 check  to your ministry, how would you spend it and why?” If you would like a resource for ideas, consider buying a Vision Deck with 52 “vision-icebreakers” for this time.

#6 Cast a leadership vision to pray for people far from God. In the next several weeks, ask each person on the leadership team to share 3-5 people in their sphere of influence who are far from God. Pray for these people by name as a group every week this year.

#7 Schedule values-based leadership gatherings. Design several staff or leadership gatherings throughout based on your church values. For example, is you have six values, plan six special gatherings. During each experience, highlight the designated value in a concrete way. Celebrate and honor individuals who are modeling the value well.

#8 Increase your culture of collaboration. Find a coach or friend in ministry who can provide some staff training. Re-engage that personality assessment that came and went too quickly. Purchase a simple tool for each team member to bring to every meeting in this year. I use this collaboration cube in every meeting I lead to encourage push-back, transparency, creativity, support and making final decisions.

#9 Create a stop doing list and execute. Whether your church is growing, plateaued or declining you will greatly benefit from identifying  and eliminating the 20% of church’s activity that is the lowest return on the mission. Play this short audio from Jim Collins as a staff exercise. As a team, ask the question ruthlessly, “Why do we do what we do?”

#10 Assess your vision and make time to reflect, discern and articulate. Here is the Vision Frame overview as a litmus test for your vision. If you can not answer all five questions of the irreducible minimums of clarity, then schedule one day per month to work on your vision. More about the Vision Frame.

#11 Take some new steps to develop leaders at every level of involvement. Many pastors hope to do this but never get to it. But it’s not that hard if you take a little time to plan. Spend 3 months designing, 3 months building behind the scenes and launch a dynamic process by fall of this year. I co-authored a book, Building Leaders, to guide this process for you. Two other great resources are The Leadership Baton by Bruce Miller and Mac Lake’s Blog.

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