Strategic Mission Planning Process Outline    Strategic Planning Packet

Developed by the Renewing Mission Table

Indiana-Kentucky Synod, ELCA

Preparing for Strategic Mission Planning

To be completed by the Pastoral Leadership and the Church Council:

Choose the Right Team – Team members should:


  • Have an awareness of how God is at work in their lives
  • Be able to vision what God wants to do in your congregation
  • Be open to new ideas and change
  • Be accepting of innovative ideas
  • Make a commitment to follow-through with the planning process

A good size for the Strategic Mission Planning Team is 5-7 people.  Give attention to diversity in age, gender, length of membership, culture, etc.

Consideration should be given to how many teams are necessary to complete this planning process in your congregation.


  • Some congregations might have a Vision Team to develop the plan with sub-teams to develop goals, objectives and action plans.  Attention should be given to how and when the church council becomes involved in the process; and how and when the strategic mission plan will be presented to the congregation.
  • Other congregations might have the church council accomplish all the steps involved in the planning process and then present it to the congregation.
  • The important thing is to consider what kind of team or teams will work best for your ministry context.

To be completed at the first meeting of the Vision Team:

Guiding Principles for Congregational Mission Planning

Find this resource in the packet

Read through and discuss this resource together as a Vision Team

Congregational Involvement

Consideration should be given to how and when the congregation will be informed about and/or involved in the strategic mission planning process.

Create a Spiritual Foundation for Planning and Change

Before the process begins, pray and seek God’s direction for the future ministry of the congregation.

Choose a specific scripture passage and focus on this throughout the entire process (i.e. at each council meeting, planning meeting, etc.)  While reading the same passage over and over again may seem redundant , living with the passage will help you to answer these questions: What is God up to among us?  What piece of God’s action are we being fitted for now?

Listen to how the Holy Spirit is speaking through people and circumstances as the process unfolds.

You may want to consider engaging in a congregational listening campaign as you lay a spiritual foundation for this planning process.  See the information on how to conduct a listening campaign in your congregation included in the packet: One to One Conversations and One to One Relational Meetings.

For more information about listening campaigns, contact Pastor Nancy Nyland at [email protected]

Outline for Strategic Mission Planning

To be completed at the second meeting of the Vision Team: You might want to invite a facilitator to lead this portion of the process: Pastor Nancy Nyland, DEM of the IK Synod or a trained E3 facilitator.

Getting Ready to Write the Strategic Mission Plan

Devotions: “Taking a Risk” (This devotion is included in the packet.)

Who Are We?
What do you like about your congregation?
Where  and how have you seen God working in or through your congregation?
What kind of relationship do you have with other churches or organizations?

Identifying Core Values:
What one thing about your relationship with God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is essential to your mission?
If you could only fund one program in your congregation, what would that be?

Our Mission Field

Define your ministry area. 

      • Please take into consideration where the next closest ELCA congregation is located and where current members live.
      • How far will people drive to eat at a good restaurant?  They will drive that far for a spiritual meal, as well.  If you feed them, they will come!How has our neighborhood changed in the past ten years?

Tenant vs. homeowner

Free basic demographics are available  Pastor Nancy Nyland, DEM at [email protected], can gather more detailed demographics, if those would be helpful


Optional: SWOT Analysis can be completed while engaging in the Who Are We and Our Mission Field stages of this process. See instructions and chart for SWOT Analysis included in the packet.

Writing the Strategic Mission Plan
To be completed at the third meeting of the Vision Team

Our Mission
      • What are we here for?
      • Who are we here for?
      • What is God calling us to do?
      • What do we want to accomplish?
      • What is a short memorable way of saying what we stand for?
      • Your vision statement should be short enough to fit on a t-shirt
      • Suggestion: At the end of each worship service the Assistant Minister or Pastor says, “Go in peace, serve the Lord” and the congregation responds with the Vision Statement.After considering these questions and words/phrases/concepts that were identified during the discussion, now it is time to develop and write your Mission Statement.

Our Vision

  • What are we about?
  • What will things look like when we are successful?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up (as a congregation)?After considering these questions and words/phrases/concepts that were identified during the discussion, now it is time to develop and write your Vision Statement.Our Core ValuesHint: look at the responses to the questions asked in the section “Identifying Core Values.”

    Our Operating Principles – Optional
    For an example, see I-K Synod Mission/Vision Statement in this packet.


    Goals and Objectives
    To be completed at the fourth and following meetings of the Vision Team

    Key Mission and Ministry Area
    • On what areas do we need to focus if we are to fulfill our mission and ministry?
    • Key Mission and Ministry Areas are a list of headings under which we can fulfill our ministry. It might be helpful to look at your budget line items or your committee/team structure to identify these areas.
    • Consider who will be asked to develop goals and objectives.  Should these be developed by the Vision Team?  Should these be developed by a ministry team or committee (i.e.; worship goals and objectives developed by the worship committee) and then brought back to the Vision Team?  What might work best in your congregation?

    Goals  — Goal statements begin with “To……”


    • What are we currently doing in each Key Mission and Ministry Area?
    • Set at least one goal in each Key Mission and Ministry Area.
    • Goals for one year from now, two years from now and on up to five years from now should be developed as appropriate for each Key Mission and Ministry Area.

    Objectives — Objectives are statements of specific projects or tasks that need to happen to achieve a goal.  There is often more than one objective for a goal.


    • What projects or tasks are we going to do to achieve each goal?
    • One year objectives should be developed as appropriate to achieve each goal.

    Goals & Objectives should be S.M.A.R.T.


    • Specific
      • Who: Who is involved?  Who is responsible/the leader?
      • What: What do we want to accomplish?
      • Where: Identify a location.
      • When: Establish a time frame.
      • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

    Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

    • Measurable
    • Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions:How much? How many? How will we know when it is accomplished?
    • Attainable
    • When you identify goals that are most important to the congregation’s mission and ministry, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. The congregation develops the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them.
    • Realistic
    • To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which the congregation is both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic.  The goal is probably realistic if the congregation truly believes that it can be accomplished.
    • Timely
    • A goal must have a target date. A target date helps to motivate you toward completion and accomplishment.  A deadline too far in the future is too easily put off.  A goal that is set too close is not only unrealistic, it’s discouraging.

    Action Plans Action plans are the steps of how you are going to accomplish the objectives.

    • What steps do we need to take to accomplish the objectives?
    • When to be completed and who will do it?
    • What resources do we need to accomplish the objectives?
    • What do we have?
    • What do we need to get?

    Priorities Priorities are statements to guide action in the short term (for example: the next six months).  

    • Which objectives will make the most difference in accomplishing our goals and mission?
    • Which objectives will be the easiest to accomplish?
    • Which objectives can be accomplished with our current resources?
    • Which objectives will require additional resources to accomplish?

    Present the Plan to the Congregation

        • Who will present the plan?
        • When and how will it be presented?
        • How will feedback be processed?
    Review Process

    Congregations and communities are living organisms which grow and change constantly.  Therefore, periodic review of the strategic mission plan is essential to keep the mission and ministry relevant.  Here are suggested review frequencies:.

    Vision and Mission

        • Review every five years

    Key Mission and Ministry Areas

        • Review every three years or when some significant unforeseen change happens within the congregation or community

    Goals & Objectives

        • Review every year

    Action Plans

    • Review at least every yearPriorities
        • Review every year