Church Ministry Essentials

Module 5:

Strategic Planning

The extent to which your vision will materialize is largely dependent upon how well you plan. In this module you will explore principles of strategic planning and goal setting that can be contextualized into your unique ministry setting.

In this module, we will explore the following topics:

Cultivating an Identity-Informed Strategic Plan

Three Essential Ingredients of Movement

Leading from the Top Down

Growing from the Bottom Up

Hosting a “Bridge” Event or Informational Meeting

Module Resources

Below is a curated collection of some of the best resources on strategic planning. These resources are intended to serve you, not overwhelm you. Do not feel the pressure to work through all of them, but use them in a way that best helps you grow. For some modules it might mean plowing through them all, for others it might mean focusing on just a few!



Strategic Planning

An interview with Philip Pattison, the leader of a network in San Francisco that works with over 200 churches, and Maren Vallerand, a ministry leader at her church in Seattle.

Watch as Jason, Philip and Maren talk about the role strategic planning plays in their ministries.

Three Key Aspects of Strategic Planning Within a Church Context

An interview with Tiffany Loeffler, the Executive Director of The Alliance, a non-profit in Sacramento, CA that works to mobilize churches.

Watch as Jason and Tiffany unpack three key things to consider when planning for your ministry.


Strategic Planning in the Church

Aubrey Malphurs explains how strategic planning in leadership is crucial for the Church to achieve the mission God gave it.

3 Steps of the Strategic Planning Process

This video will walk you through each step of the Strategic Planning Process in under 15 minutes!

Plan Your Ministry Year

While this is specific to children and student ministries, there’s SO MANY principles that are helpful for foster care and adoption ministry as well!

How to Create a Planning Rhythm

At its core, good church strategic planning is not an event—it is a process of continuous improvement.


How We Think About Strategic Planning

The Church Leadership Podcast

Explore five best practices for effective strategic planning and then walk through a strategic planning worksheet.

How to Build a Strategic Plan That Sticks

The Business Thorcast Podcast

Building a strategic plan is one of the most important things you will do as the leader of an organization. In this episode, Thor talks to Afterburner’s strategy expert, Will Duke, about the key areas you need to focus on to build a successful strategic plan.

How to Create a Planning Rhytm

The Malphurs Group Podcast

We need to re-conceptualize church strategic planning as a healthy habit rather than an event. Good strategic planning is no more a one-time occurrence than the benefits of a healthy diet can bring results after eating a single salad. The salad is good, but a long-term habit of good food choices is what brings results. Likewise, embedding a strategic planning rhythm into your church is the only way to glean the benefits.

The Strategic Planning Process

The Vance Pitman Leadership Podcast

In this episode of the Vance Pitman Leadership Podcast, Vance and sits down with Hope Church’s Executive Pastor, Travis Ogle to discuss a highly recommended topic from listeners: how to engage in healthy and effective strategic planning.

Articles + PDFs

The Theology and Practice of Strategic Planning

God is a planner. So we should be too. Here’s an overview of the Biblical counsel on the subject, as well as six best practices for effective planning.

Thirty Feedback Questions for Strategic Planning

A list of 30 excellent questions to ask before you make a plan. While this article is geared toward the broader church, you can simply replace the word “church” with the word “ministry” and find an immense amount of value for you as you plan specifically within your foster care and adoption ministry context.

Why Your Strategy Isn’t Working: 3 Critical Factors That Could Be Sabotaging Your Success

You’ve heeded all the best practices. You’ve gone to all the right conferences. And yet if you’re like most leaders, you still feel like you’re struggling to get traction towards accomplishing your vision.

The Concept Missing from Most Strategic Planning Models: Failure

A good strategic planning model encourages risk when failure costs little.

Everyone Can Do Something

Chapters 2, 5 and 6

If vision is the destination and the car is strategy, strategic planning is the map that helps you get there. Effective strategic planning works to give your ministry and all those involved the clarity and confidence they need to take their next best steps forward. It helps to answer the questions of “What are we going to do, what are we not going to do, why are we going to do what we’re going to do and how are we going to do it?” In these sections you’ll explore some principles and practices of strategic planning as well as discover how to plan confidently but with flexibility and the importance of not allowing your planning to become isolated from the real needs of those you are serving. 

Action Guides and Exercises


Creating a Strategic Next Steps Plan

Shrink the problem, grow your people and identify next steps. Three key steps to forming a plan!


Develop an Annual Calendar

As a ministry leader or team, spend time considering what the next 6-12 months. Keep in mind “peak” opportunities that already exist, like Foster Care Awareness Month in May and National Adoption Month (and Orphan Sunday) in November. How will you leverage those key opportunities and build them into your strategic plan? What will you do in between those two components that just so happen to be evenly spaced out by 6 months? Support groups, parent night out events, informationals for people considering getting involved, social events, service projects, sermons, sharing of stories…the list could go on. Spend time dreaming about what the next year looks like, then begin to identify the best and most strategic next steps you need to take in order to get there. As well, consider who needs to lead out on certain components and take ownership of different aspects of the plan? Use this plan to identify and raise up leaders who help steward the ministry – and people – God has entrusted to you. 

Use the simple mock-up provided here or your own calendar to visually lay out what your plan looks like.

Resource Spotlight

While the focus of this book is about personal goal setting, habits and strategic planning, our team has found it immensely helpful to apply those same principles to the ministries and organizations we are leading. You’ll walk away both personally challenged and encouraged in your own goal setting and habit planning life, but also inspired as you take your next best steps forward in leading your ministry.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results. No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. You can likely already see how so many of these ideas will be helpful to you as a church or ministry leader!

Request a Coaching Session

You and your team have the opportunity to request a coaching call facilitated by Jason Johnson. 

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