Turn ministry ideas into action in 4 steps: lessons from a church planter #3

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How do you get great ideas, at least things you think are great ideas and initiatives, and see them come to life and action, and then stay alive and healthy? All to often leaders come up with ideas that never get off the ground or once started in a flash of excitement then fade away into nothing.  Great ideas rarely translate themselves into action by accident.  Yet all to often the people with great initiatives have no idea how to implement and see them come to life.

Being a church planter for 17 years there are numerous values, visions, calling, ideas, beliefs, hopes, hunches and aspirations that I have tried to lead into life and health.  After some successes and many more failures, with much coaching, and reading about this issue, I have landed on a simple process for getting ideas into actions.

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Vision leads to Strategic Planning leads to Execution which allows you to Allocate Resources.

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Now all these steps need unpacking individually, but for today I will make a quick outline of them in practice.  I’ll come back to them one at time in follow up posts with some of my favourite  resources for these steps.

I’ll use  in this post a real world example from my church, of Home for Good to show something we have recently taken from Vision into action at our church.

With several families fostering and adopting joining us and some vision casting from Krish Kandiah, we felt the Lord calling us to catch up with what he was doing with Home for Good, nationally and in our church.

So other than saying we were excited about it and hoping something took shape we new that wishful thinking wouldn’t see this exciting ministry birthed, resourced and grow unless we put our some purposeful thinking and planning behind it.

[accordion id="my-accordion"] [accordion_item title="Step 1: Vision" parent_id="my-accordion"]Vision is the why.  Why this, why now, why is this important and needing of attention investment and focus?  Why will this make a difference and what change will it bring?

We need to start by making sure we are clear on the why of what we are wanting to do.

Home for Good have a clear vision - a home for every child who needs one.  The 15,000 children in the UK who need a home for good, is one child per the 15,000 churches in the UK in contact with Home for Good through the Evangelical Alliance UK.  Changing a generation and our country one child per church.

So I sat down with the people closest to Home for Good in our church, and asked the why about our church getting involved with Home for Good.  Yes the one child per church vision, but what about the why for us as church? We came up with this vision statement for our for Home for Good in our church.

  1. Kids experience:  Whether a child is with us for a day or life, we want them to experience the family of God’s people.
  2. It takes a church to raise a child:  It will take all our church to foster and adopt, this is not something for lone superheroes, but for us all to take part in.
  3. Culture of Normal and Involvement:  We want it to be normal for the members of our church to consider fostering and adopting
  4. Home for Good Locally:  We want to partner with local churches to encourage them in this vision, and with our local authorities to see significant progress in children finding a home for good.

So far maybe so good.  A compelling and exciting vision. At least it is for us as a church when we shared it.  But again that isn’t going to happen just by talking about it, and or hoping someone else makes the happen.  So what did we do next?  That brings us to Strategic Planning.[/accordion_item]

[accordion_item title="Step 2:  Strategic Planning" parent_id="my-accordion" open="true"]Once we have the why of what we want to see happen we can all to easily leave it at that, thinking we have done something just by talking about it.  Or we jump into action trying to make it happen and don’t see it take shape as we would hope.  There is a step before taking action and that is strategic planning.

Strategic planning is thinking about the required steps, goals and milestone that might make that vision come to life.  One way we do strategic planning is to timeline backwards.  Imaging the vision has come to life, and is all we hoped for what were the things that happened to make that come alive?  We work backwards from that to where we are now.

So we had an initial strategy for Home for Good, for the next 12 months months, that set out simply what we think we need to achieve to see that vision come to life.

We attached the planning to the vision items to keep it focused.

  1. Kids Experience: Let’s identify the parents fostering and adopting and people already considering it and assess their needs and how we can support them and those children who they are have in their lives and ours.
  2. It takes a church:   We need to share this vision in church, have a communication process for people to know about Home for Good and how to start to take part and support parents involved with fostering and adopting.
  3. Culture of Normal and Consideration:  In 6 months with 1&2 under way, review how our church is engaging in this and the growth of involvement and participation by others.  Is this culture taking shape and how and what more do we need to do to develop it.
  4. Home for Good with Local Authority and Churches:  Make contact with Local Authority and Churches, invite them to Home for Good events, cast vision and invite them to partner

So we have a vision and we have a plan, now time to take some action, i.e execution[/accordion_item]

[accordion_item title="Step 3: Execution" parent_id="my-accordion"]So far we have done nothing other than have some ideas and hopes and develop a plan and strategy around those.  Again we all to often mistake ideas for actions and even more often mistake plans for actions.  Taking action, execution is the most difficult part of the process.  If we have a clear vision, and good plan why don’t people just naturally engage in making it happen?

Vision and planning are steps of talking, writing and typing - execution is something altogether different, it is behaviour, change and action.

So again we allocated clear actions around the same 4 areas for the vision and planning.

  1. Kids experience: The person heading up Home for Good in church meets with our kids pastor and families involved in fostering and adopting to assess how we can help their kids have this experience of church family.
  2. It takes a child: We arranged some sharing in church on specific dates, and interviews with parents and call to action for how church members can start to take part.
  3. Culture of Normal and Consideration:  We measures our church involvement now and then again in 6 months and 12 months in terms of no.s of people involved, new fostering and adopting families etc.
  4. Home for Good Locally: We spoke and led an event with local churches that our local authority were invited to and had a call to action for them as next steps.

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[accordion_item title="Step 4: Allocating Resources" parent_id="my-accordion"]So who do we need to make this happen, what money, what support and what kind of support do we need.  Who will oversee, who will be responsible and who is going to do what?  Resources need to be allocated to make vision happen, rather than allowing resources to determine our vision. [/accordion_item]

Conclusion So if you are struggling to get ideas into action maybe these steps will help you.  As I said earlier in this post I will be exploring each of the steps in my weekly posts.