The Thing That Helped My Leadership Team
In a few weeks, my elder team and I will head out an our annual retreat. It’s something that we look forward to every year; we get away for a few days to “pray, plan, and play.” I could not emphasize enough the importance of doing something like this with your staff and/or leadership team. It’s one of the most important practices I would emphasize to any church planter or pastor -If you don’t already host annual retreat, you should work on getting it on the calendar. (You do have a master calendar, right? More about that in a minute…)
You don’t have to go far away to pull off a solid retreat. In fact, our team generally stays within an hour or two of the church. We typically look for a cabin or remote location where we can get away from distractions for a long weekend. We plan our meals and bring food with us, and put a schedule together to outline the weekend, which includes a balance of work and play.
Every year there are specific discussions and decisions we know we must have based upon the current season our church is in, but there are also a few topics we cover every time: We always take time to evaluate, discuss and tweak roles, build a master calendar, and look at the budget for the upcoming year.
When I planted Immanuel Church, I talked at length with my leaders about building a culture of evaluation into our church. Too often churches plan an event, execute it, but then fail to follow up with evaluation. Then they do it again the next year for no other reason than it happened the year before. That’s a bad reason to do something. Instead, clearly define the purpose of everything that you do. Have stated goals and outcomes for every program and event. And then be diligent to evaluate them for their effectiveness. We take time every year to look at every program, ministry, and event. We measure each item based on its alignment with our vision statement, stated purpose and desired outcome, and decide whether to continue based upon the season we’re in as a church. Just because something was great in the past doesn’t mean it’s still the best use of time, money, and resources for the future.
Just like programs and ministries, the role descriptions of pastors, staff, and volunteers need to be evaluated every year. Over time, the needs of the church will change as the church grows. As the church changes, so should the roles of some team members. This doesn’t mean doing an overhaul of every staff member’s job, just adjusting as needed. Take time at your annual retreat to revisit everyone’s role description and make adjustments. You might discover that a staff member has a skill set that would benefit your team in a new way, or that they’d be a better fit in a new area of leadership. By pausing every year to evaluate role descriptions, you can make the needed changes with your team.
Build A Master Calendar
Does your leadership team have a master calendar? If not, you need one! This calendar should include everything. Every core ministry, every event, program, and holiday. Take time to write down everything that happens on an annual basis. Get everyone on the same page and make sure they all have access to the calendar. Reference the calendar regularly throughout the year during staff meetings, elder meetings, planning meetings, etc. (In a future post I’m going to walk you through how to build a master calendar!)
Look At The Budget
A planning retreat is a way to get out in front of the next year, to plan ahead. But those plans are nothing but talk until they’re reflected in the budget. Your budget is where your church puts its “money where its mouth is” regarding the stated vision. In other words, your vision should come through where your church is spending money. Spending time at the retreat analyzing the current year’s budget, looking at where you need to cut and where you need to add. How do you need to make room for necessary events? What needs to go from the budget because it’s no longer the best use of financial resources? If you can walk away from your retreat with a rough draft of next year’s budget in hand, you’ll be way ahead, which will serve you incredibly well in the coming months!
If you’ll take time to evaluate, tweak roles, build a calendar, and work on the budget, your team will be unified, and you’ll be able to lead them much more effectively, which is why you cannot afford to go another year without a planning retreat!