How to Maximize Your Ministry in the New Year

How to Maximize Your Ministry in the New Year

Posted on Posted in Productivity, Strategy

My church recently shared our strategic initiatives for next year. If you’re not familiar with strategic initiatives, think of them as short-term goals that move you closer to your long-term goals and objectives.

Strategic initiatives are informed by your mission, strategy, and objectives.

The order looks like this:
Vision –> Mission –> Strategy –> Objectives –> Initiatives

An example from my church…

Vision: Create a church that unchurched people love to attend.

Mission: Lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Strategy: Create environments where people are encouraged and equipped to pursue intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders.

Objectives: Spiritual and Numerical Growth; Excellent and Irresistible Environments; Healthy Staff and Leadership Culture.

Initiatives: These are specific, measurable targets that will help us make significant progress toward each of those objectives.

A Big Mistake…

Many churches create vision and mission statements, but few actually drill down to the level of identifying initiatives. I think that’s a big mistake.

Strategic initiatives help you focus on the things you need to focus on in a particular season of ministry. You might have 14 things that need attention and improvement, but you can’t get to everything all at once.

You have to decide which things will give you the highest return on investment over the next 12 months. Those are your strategic initiatives. They dictate where you need to spend the largest amounts of time, energy, and money to make the biggest difference. When you focus on those things and leave the other things for later, you will create momentum in your ministry.

As time passes, your initiatives will need to change to keep up with your current reality. They should evolve to account for new strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, possibilities, and liabilities. Your initiatives shouldn’t be the same from one year to the next.

What is Mission Drift?

That’s important because, as Peter Greer and Chris Horst point out in their book, Mission Drift,Here’s the reality: Mission Drift is the natural course for organizations, and it takes focused attention to safeguard against it” (p. 20).

In science, the second law of thermodynamics says that in the natural order of the universe, things move toward chaos rather than progress. Your church and your ministry are the same way. The natural pull isn’t toward alignment; the pull is toward misalignment.

In the average church, focus gets scattered. Resources get used. Things that should be a priority take a backseat to things that should’ve been done away with years ago.

Strategic initiatives help to keep your church and your ministry Mission True. Greer and Horst explain, “Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do. They define what is immutable: their values and purposes, their DNA, their heart and soul” (Mission Drift, p. 27).

Creating a Sense of Urgency

If your church has experienced Mission Drift and needs to change, then I suggest you check out my online course: Creating a Sense of Urgency. It’s not a comprehensive guide to leading the entire change process, but it walks you through the very first step that you need to take in order to get the ball rolling. If you don’t get that first step right, then your change efforts are doomed from the start.

Clarifying Questions

Rather than share my church’s strategic initiatives, I think it’s more helpful to offer some questions that can help you clarify some of your own initiatives for your own ministry next year.

When you’re done answering these questions, you’ll need to go back through them to define specific, measurable targets that are informed by your answers. Those will be your initiatives. I’ve also included a few examples that might be helpful for you.


What are we currently doing that hinders our ability to see more spiritual growth? How can we change that?

Possible initiative for you:
Find or create 3 serving opportunities within the church for students.


What are 2 things we can do in the next 12 months to help students take a step in their relationship with God? How can we implement those?

Possible initiative for you:
Create a resource area for students that is stocked with books, tools, and ideas to help them grow in their faith.


What are we currently doing that hinders our ability to see that more new students attend and return to our programs? How can we change that?

Possible initiative for you:
Conduct a poll among parents to find the optimal program times.


What are 2 things we can do in the next 6 months to attract new students to come and then come back? How can we implement those?

Possible initiative for you:
Implement a consistent follow-up system for new students.


In what ways does our student room hinder the experience we want students to have? How can we change that?

Possible initiative for you:
Upgrade the audio/visual equipment in the student room.


What are 2 ways we can make our student room more appealing to students? How can we implement those?

Possible initiative for you:
Find 5 parents who are willing to donate $500 each for room upgrades.


What keeps new volunteers from joining the team? How can we change that?

Possible initiative for you:
Create an entry-level serving position that doesn’t require very much time or training.


What are 2 ways we can create a greater sense of buy-in among our volunteers? How can we implement those?

Possible initiative for you:
Host a cookout for volunteers at your house.


What keeps you from growing as a leader? How can you change that?

Possible initiative for you:
Block out 2 hours every week to think strategically about your ministry.


What are 2 ways you can take your leadership to the next level? How can you implement those?

Possible initiative for you:
Read 6 leadership books in the next 12 months, beginning with Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels.

Your Move

Simply stating the initiatives isn’t enough. They won’t happen without corresponding action steps. That’s why I included the secondary questions about “how?”

For example, if you’re going to host a cookout for volunteers at your house, there are several more steps involved. You have to pick a date, make sure you have money in the budget, buy the supplies, get things ready, and plan for the time together. The initiative gets the ball rolling, but don’t forget to define your action steps. It’s those action steps that will help you accomplish your initiatives.

When you accomplish your initiatives, you’ll meet your objectives. When you meet your objectives, you’ll be in sync with your strategy. When you’re in sync with your strategy, you’ll accomplish your mission. And when you accomplish your mission, you’ll make progress toward your vision. It all works together, but it starts with identifying and focusing on your initiatives for the new year.

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Trevor Hamaker (DMin, McAfee School of Theology) is an author, adjunct professor, and youth ministry coach. He helps youth pastors see their potential, develop their skills, and reach their goals.

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