Have you ever had one of those long, busy days when you fall into bed that night, stopping for what feels like the first time in 12 hours, and find yourself wondering, “What did I get done today?” It happens to many of us. The chaos of ordinary life takes the helm, and you find yourself unclear as to whether you accomplished all you had hoped to. At its worst, when the chaos takes over you fail to faithfully steward your resources, avoid responsibility and are untrue to yourself or who you hope to become.
The same thing happens to institutions—even churches.
Even the quietest of churches can be places humming with activity. Copiers getting fixed. Food pantries being filled. Trash cans emptied. Altar flowers prepared. The myriad of interests, activities, needs, ideas, and opinions flood through the inboxes and doorways of churches and their leaders. How does a church choose where to place attention, use resources, and answer Christ’s calling?
In the fall of 2020, the Diocese of San Diego published a new strategic plan. It included bold and sweeping goals that covered areas such as church growth, discipleship, evangelism, service, advocacy, leadership, and stewardship. Over the last two years, diocesan staff, various committees, and task-forces worked hard to execute this plan and yet we too have found that the chaos of church life—like ordinary life—can sweep in and distract us from our priorities. We have found it critical to ask ourselves how incoming projects, ideas or opportunities fit into the work at hand and the vision of this diocese.
To assist in this discernment, the diocese has started using a “strategy screen.” A strategy screen is a list of criteria or questions that assist an organization in prioritizing projects or programs based on the objectives of the institution. The EDSD strategy screen was adapted from a similar screen used by our friends at ECS. Our strategy screen provides prompts that help us ensure a project matches our core identity, what we hope to become, that which we are accountable to and how a new project stewards our assets. In the few months, we have used this tool, it has added clarity and confidence in those endeavors we have decided to adopt.
We encourage your congregation to adopt a strategy screen as well. Feel free to download a copy of EDSD’s and replace the diocesan vision, mission, and value with that of your congregation. The next time a new program or project is considered by the vestry or Bishop’s committee, use the screen to see if this project matches your congregation’s strategy. We here at the diocesan office would love to hear what you learn. Was it helpful? Did you learn something new about your congregation’s decision-making process? Share your experience with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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