How to Execute a Strategic Plan at Your Church – The One Unifying Question?

You Need a Strategic Plan

Developing a strategic plan is essential for your church or organization. At the same time, strategic planning can be overwhelming.

Most leaders have sat through a strategic planning session (or led one) only to find themselves with another binder to place on a shelf beside the other under-utilized plans.

Strategic plans should be actionable if we work through a pragmatic strategic planning process. Meaning the plan isn’t a shelf decoration, but a part of helping your church or business maximize its potential.

Where do you start? How do you start?

I introduced my strategic planning framework previously. This framework is divided into four sections:

  1. Determine position and reality
  2. Develop a strategy
  3. Design the tactics
  4. Measure the progress

These sections cascade as information is analyzed and decisions are made. However, we should note that the time we spend in each section is far from even. The first element of planning, determining our current position and reality, is half the process. Sometimes more. When leadership acknowledges what is true today in complete honesty and transparency, planning for the future becomes far less complex.

As we continue the process, it is time to look into the future for clarity.

That sounds like an oxymoron, though. The future is often more cloudy than clear. “We need a strategic plan to find clarity in the future clouds,” you may say.

Tactically, that may be true. But there is one question that will help create directional clarity for your pending strategic plan. This one question serves as a true north of sorts as you define tactics and steps within your strategy. Further, this one question helps create a unifying thematic goal for your strategy.

What’s the question? I’m glad you asked.

The One Question that Creates Organizational Unity and Clarity

What must be true in a year?

I love this question. Every time I ask it in a strategic workshop session, I watch the leaders around the table pause and reflect on the work we’ve done thus far as they formulate their answers. The previous work – defining success by focusing on the mission and vision, clarifying aspirational values, and understanding our points of differentiation – all serve as precursors to this question.

Good work on these three sections prepares us to decide what must be true in a year.

You can imagine how this question brings unity and clarity to the rest of the strategic process. Your answer to this question sets a clear goal directly from your mission and vision.

From this one question, we can:

  • Define success for our strategic plan.
  • Build unity for our teams and organization.
  • Create the target from which we work backward to define strategic steps.
  • Highlight the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
  • Decide how much change will be required during our strategic plan.

What a powerful question, huh?

But don’t start with this question! It is too powerful to ask before progressing through the previous steps first, lest you end up with an answer that might take you and your organization in an unhelpful direction.


When it comes to strategic planning, we must decide today what must be true a year from today.

To review, here are the steps we’ve covered thus far:

  1. Why do we exist? How do we see the preferable future?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What are our points of differentiation? What makes us, us?
  4. AND THIS POST: What must be true in a year? How does this create a unifying thematic goal?

The final step in Determining our Position & Reality is to evaluate where we are today. We’ll do that in our next post. Make sure you follow along with this conversation.

How can I help?

Most of my clients consider me their CSO (Chief Strategy Officer). I created Transformation Solutions to help ministry and marketplace leaders progress from innovation through implementation. I’m dedicating my time to helping leaders discover potential problems, design strategic solutions, and deliver the preferable future. That includes you.

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