This year of the pandemic has been one that none of us will soon forget. Churches have had to struggle to stay alive and have to make many unexpected changes.
Churches have had to pivot and change how they conduct weekly services, clean and sanitize, and communicate with members!
We all know that this pandemic will eventually be behind us and we need to continually look forward to what God has in store!
It’s hard to believe, but we are almost into the 4th quarter of 2020. As we move closer to the end of the year, it might be a good time to think about your 2021 church planning and what you should be doing now.
There is an old saying, “If you fail to plan – you plan to fail.” No words have ever had more meaning. It is important to plan.
Planning helps us stay focused on church priorities that move us closer to achieving our mission. Focused priorities ensure there are the necessary resources available in the next 12 months to support church strategy.
If you haven’t already, now might be a good time to start scheduling those church leadership meetings to discuss plans for 2021.
2021 Church Planning – Nine Things to Consider
1) Church Post COVID
Churches have had to take unprecedented measures in 2020 to just stay alive. Expect remnants of the virus to carry over into 2021.
Audit church expenses and itemize those costs that were a result of COVID.
For instance, pull those expenses related to new cleaning or sanitation products. Use this cost summary for your 2021 budget.Use your 2021 plan to memorialize what your church learned through the pandemic.
Document lessons learned and write policy, process, and accountability standards.
For instance, if your church had to scramble to learn how to stream church services, capture every step of the process, and record what was learned.
Take what you learned and systematically improve
2) Church Strategy
A written church strategic plan is used to systematically take steps to achieve the church mission, develop members, and enhance church programs.
The fourth quarter of the year makes it a great time to revisit the strategy, plans, and current direction of your church.
Focused discussions should include planning for the predictable – as well as the unpredictable.
For instance, if you have an aging staff, include succession planning in your 2021 conversations.
Devote some time to do a SWOT analysis and talk about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that face your church.
Brainstorm ways your church can build on its strengths, and address its weaknesses.
For example, look at those things that might be standing in the way of your church fulfilling its mission. And then make a plan to remove those obstacles
3) Set 2021 Church Goals
Goals can be a tool to translate strategy into actionable steps, and ultimately get things done.
Spend the time to write church goals for 2021. Put them on paper and assign responsibility to get them done.
For instance, if your church has a goal to increase volunteer participation, assign that responsibility to someone and hold them accountable to get it done.
Monitor goals monthly, and manage them through a performance management process.
Church Goals should be written, managed, and achieved to support the strategy and plan
4) Create A Church Budget
Budgeting ensures responsible stewardship of church financial resources.
Take the time to go through a formal church budgeting process that designates funds to support the strategy to achieve the mission.This process should include looking at how the ministry spends its resources and how it plans to invest in those things that further its mission.Look also at those capital equipment needs and put a plan and budget in place to ensure the funds are available when needed.
For example, if your soundboard is on its last leg, reserve some resources for next year now so you don’t end up having a Sunday to remember!
5) Learn From Church Volunteers
Volunteers are the labor engine of the church, and without them, most churches would have to close their doors.
Develop a volunteer strategy and spend some time soliciting feedback from your volunteers. The goal is to put a plan in place to improve the volunteer experience.
Volunteers have a great perspective and can offer insight into improving operational efficiencies.
Take advantage of this collective knowledge and spend the time and resources to support volunteer efforts
6) Write Goals For Church Employees
Church employees facilitate the church experience and have special needs.
This is also the perfect time of year to write employee goals for 2021 and to update church job descriptions to reflect those goals.
Talk to your employees and look for ways to keep them engaged and committed.
Burned out employees simply go through the motions, so spend some time finding ways to keep them focused!
Church volunteers and members rely heavily on church employees, so be sure to take care of them!
For example, now might be a good time to revisit your compensation strategy and add budget dollars for merit increases.
7) Talk To Church Members
Members have a vested interest in the church. Invest the time in trying to understand the member experience so you can incorporate their needs into a strategy.
Members are the financial engine of the church so talk to them and make sure the church is meeting their needs – within the boundaries of the church mission.
Spend some time focusing on church members and identifying their spiritual and social needs.
For example, if there is an aging demographic in the church body, make a plan, and budget some resources to start a program for people over 60.
Investing in these groups can pay off big time in donations.
8) Update Emergency Preparedness Plan
It seems like it is almost weekly there are disasters, mass shootings, and unexpected crises erupt. Every church should have a plan to activate in the event of an emergency.
Now is an excellent time to review and update the emergency preparedness plan to ensure your church is ready for the unexpected.
It is only wise to have a plan and know how to respond in the event of an emergency. Who more than the church should be prepared.
9) 2021 Church Events
Most churches were forced to cancels their 2020 events. Virtual Easter services are simply not the same.
Summer Vacation Bible School, Church Picnic, and Mission trips were all victims of the virus shut down.
Take the time now to think through what church events might look like in 2021 and start working on a plan.
Churches are the light in this very dark world and provide hope for us all. Take the time to plan now for next year so your church can continue to reach your community.
There is no secret formula, but good planning and fiscal responsibility, coupled with a well-structured performance management process, is a great way to start!
Have you mapped out a plan for 2021?
Many of the documents needed for planning are included in Smart Church Management library — go here to access them.