One of the questions that I am frequently asked by ministry friends is: can Ministry Architects help a church with their strategic plan? And usually a follow-up question, how do we start?? We can and we do! Let us help you get started. Here’s why.

One of the things I love most about Ministry Architects and why I’ve been a consultant with the company since 2008, is the high value we put on intentionality. Ministry Architects designs a strategic visioning process with each church, some parts of it are tried and true and used with other groups, but for the most part, the church receives a tailor-made sequence that helps deepen the church’s roots, casts a clear vision, and establishes a plan towards making dreams a reality. The strategic visioning process typically takes place in this order:

  1. The Assessment. The church gets an opportunity to host focus groups and allow the church-members and leadership to speak into current challenges as well as blessings and gifts the congregation holds. Ministry Architects makes recommendations to address the current challenges in concrete ways as well as leverage assets and gifts. This helps create a firm foundation so that a strategic visioning process is built upon something solid with little to no cracks in the foundation.
  2. Identity. Who are we and who is our target audience? Answering these sometimes challenging questions helps open up a wider lens. Helping the church create a visioning statement (or a new mission statement) and a list of core values is so important to ensure the church has common vocabulary around who they are and what role they play in their community (neighborhood, city, wider-church community). It will be important that all goals track back to the original mission statement and the spirit of the work reflects the values.
  3. Visioning. Dreamers are allowed to let loose and dream “big, hairy and audacious” goals! The participants in the visioning process (often called a Visioning Summit), craft longer term strategic goals and we as the consultant help make them measurable and in line with best practices. A recruited team of volunteers as well as the Vestry, Session, or whatever lay leadership is in place at your church or institution, takes these goals and prays with them, sits with them, and makes sure they fit the church’s DNA and current context. We know that with God all things are possible… and we also know with a good finance committee, we can make sure we are good stewards God’s goodness and imagination we have for our communities!

Recently, I was able to work with St. John’s Episcopal Church in Dallas, TX to launch their strategic visioning process. We’ve partnered with them for 18-months to walk alongside them in this process so it does not feel overwhelming and to provide accountability and resources along the way. St. John’s is a wonderfully unique Anglo-Catholic parish in East Dallas that has seen steady growth over the last few years. It was time to leverage that growth, clarify their identity as the community around them grows and changes, and cast a vision for moving forward. The Rector recently reflected on their strategic visioning process in the weekly e-newsletter. It is so important to start this process right.

Nurturing Faith

by Father David Houk, Rector, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Dallas, TX

It happened. What I wanted to happen at our Vision Summit this past June actually happened.

I wanted the Vision Summit to be an experience of the Body of Christ together, where all of God’s people were able to give input and direction in the formulating of a new mission statement. Instead of a top-down process where the Rector and Vestry describe St. John’s character and mission, I wanted it to be a bottom-up, organic experience where all members and attenders shared what the Holy Spirit was put on their hearts.

And that’s what happened.

In an exercise where parishioners offered up words they felt best described St. John’s, one of the words that kept coming up was “nurturing.” I would have never thought of that word on my own. But it was perfect when I heard somebody else say it, and then another say it, and then another.

St. John’s is a nurturing church. We care for all kinds of people. We are accommodating and welcoming of folks who don’t know our Episcopal traditions. We meet and accept people wherever they are, just as we believe Jesus did the same. Sermons and classes nourish those who are just beginning their spiritual journey as well as those who have been walking with Christ for years. Another way of saying this is that St. John’s is made up of people and priests with a pastoral heart, able to encourage and strengthen faith in a community where no two people are the same.

We’ll be talking more about the mission statement in the weeks ahead. Let’s get to know it, memorize it, and live it together:

Nurturing faith, inspiring hope, and growing in love as we worship God, make disciples, and serve East Dallas and the world.


Email us today if you’re interested in getting started. We are excited to see what God is up to in your community! Hope we can be a part of it.

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