Peter Casillas, associate director of evangelism and church planting at the Potomac Conference, recently shared tips for creating an effective strategic plan for growth at EQUIP, a ministry training event for church members at Tidewater Adventist Academy in Chesapeake, Va.
Casillas says that when planning for outreach, it is common for churches to jump into programs, events and activities without taking in consideration context. He urges planners to “pay attention to context for greater impact” (see Numbers 13:2, 17-20). He shares the following steps for making a strategic plan for church growth:
Do a Demographic Study
Do a demographic study using resources like link2lead.com, city-data.com and missioninsite.com. These sites can help you choose a specific territory to focus your efforts. But, don’t just look at the demographic report. Take time to walk, know and live life with the community that your church wants to reach. Learn where people spend their time. What are the best restaurants? How does the community look physically? What are the struggles of the community? What are their needs? What do you observe? Talk with the community leaders and learn their perspective.
Consider Your Church’s Culture
Consider the culture of your church. Is it a commuting church or do members live in the area where the church is? If it is a commuter church, change your strategy to train and develop members to become “salt and light” of the Word of God in their sphere of influence.
Develop Partnerships With Local Organizations
Develop partnerships with organizations that are already doing something for the community. Be a positive presence in the community by extending a helping hand. This will give you the opportunity to open doors in the long run and become influential. It will develop great relationships in the community. It also allows you to develop possible ministries in specific pockets of the community that have not been reached by other organizations.
Lastly, but most importantly, love them. Pray that God may give you a deep love for your community. Its all about love, and not any kind of
love, but God’s redeeming love for whom He sent His Son (see John 3:14).
Twice a year, conference leaders and pastors run two EQUIP trainings for more than 1,100 combined participants at Potomac’s Sligo church in Takoma Park, Md., and in another part of the conference. John Cress, vice president for pastoral ministries, introduced the concept to the conference, and pastors provide the training.
-Article by Michelle Bernard, columbiaunionvisitor.com