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Strategic Planning and Stewardship

A few weeks ago, the Strategic Planning Committee put on a clever skit in church about what it does, and that got me to thinking about strategic planning. So I did what we all do when we want to find out something-I went to Wikipedia. It turns out that a lot of what business consultants say about strategic planning doesn't apply to our church-no surprise there.
        But a couple of questions and a suggestion did catch my eye. For example, there's this question: “What constitutes 'value' to the customer or constituency?” Now there's a question to ponder for our church, and it has no simple or easy answer. Since we don't sell anything, what does constitute value for us? Of course, we want to create community and promote spiritual growth, but by definition those things are not readily measured. So how do they relate to the stewardship campaign? Something to ponder.
        And then there's this standard question about strategic planning: “What differentiates this organization from its competitors?” Well, we don't like to think that we have competitors, or compete with other churches. Nevertheless, I don't think we have a clear idea of what other churches in Wilmington think of UUs in general, and of our church in particular.
        Since I'm in the Worship Associates program, and Roberta has asked us to read a book called “Worship That Works,” I've been thinking about something that's raised in the literature on strategic planning: “Learning from best practices.” That's a topic that people can discuss in their discussions with the Visiting Stewards. What are best practices in worship, in church management, and so forth? If we trust the church with our money, we want it to be used in a way that is consistent with best practices. So what are best practices in the matters that we care about, and how do we find out about them?
        The connection between stewardship and strategic planning will surely give us a lot to talk about with the Visiting Stewards!      
Jim Curtis
Stewardship Team