Is Strategy a Dirty Word in your Church?

Over the years, I have worked with many churches around the country, mostly in rural America with attendance under five hundred. I led a church in rural America for sixteen years, so I can identify (and often empathize) with the struggles that smaller churches deal with on a consistent basis. Each church, though unique, often struggle with the same things like, dysfunctional autonomy, inward focus and weak (or missing) vision. 

Despite the plethora of different struggles, there is a common bone of contention I see frequently; it is the lack of strategy. Some churches believe the word "strategy" belongs in the business world and has no place in church. Others fear systems or strategies would bring too much complexity and confusion to the church or take away from their church mission. Actually, strategy is biblical.  

Strategy is BIBLICAL

Of course, the gospel should be the heart of every church strategy. The gospel is the change agent; it is God's powder keg of salvation (Romans 1:16). The Bible teaches us that God used strategies to carry out His work throughout scrupture. Here's a few examples. 

  • God systematically created the heavens and earth (Genesis 1-2)
  • God used Joseph's strategic thinking to preserve Egypt from famine, which ended up saving Israel too. (Genesis 27-50)
  • God used Jethro to help Moses set up a strategic plan to share his leadership burdens (Exodus 18)
  • God gave Joshua war strategies to overcome the enemy (Joshua 6)
  • Jesus used the strategy of sending out His disciples two by two with specific instructions (Luke 10)
  • God used the strategy of the cross and resurrection to save us from our sins (The Gospels)

Is your Strategy working? 

The reality is, whether you believe in church strategy or not, you're using one. Whatever your process is for reaching people with the gospel is in fact, your strategy. Some churches use outreach; others rely on small group ministry; and for many the Sunday sermon is their only strategy. Regardless of the strategy, we must ask ourselves, "Is it working? Are we seeing life change? Is our church making a difference in our city or community? Is our church growing? Are we making disciples?" 

I encourage you, regardless of the size of your church, to consider implementing a healthy, gospel-centered strategy that is unique to your church. At the Unstuck Group, we believe God has a strategy for every's just a matter of discovering it. Click here to learn more about our Four Step Strategic Process


  1. Nothing could be more on target, Chad. We planted a church 8 years ago and it was somewhat flat for the first years. Four years ago, we rolled up our sleeves and began to generate a strategy and the life and growth of our church has exploded. I appreciate your post and the honest way that you've written it.
    Steve McCoy (The 360 Church, Sarasota)

    1. Thanks Steven! Sounds like some pretty awesome things are happening at The 360 Church! I would love to hear more of your story.

  2. We had a similar experience as Steven. We planted about 9 years ago and did church like every other church in our town for the first year. In year two we decided to to become a church that unchurch people would love to attend. That year we saw 19% growth, the next year 48%, and the following year 57% growth in attendance.

    We went from leasing a small space between Curves and Family Dollar to building our own worship space which we later had to build onto to add more kids space. We're now pushing 700+ each Sunday in a town with a population of 2,000 people. God has been good.

  3. Wow Travis! That's awesome! I bet I can guess you guys didn't get there by sitting around...but sought God for the right strategy? Praise God for the people you guys are reaching!


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