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Work Your P.L.A.N. for Ministry Success

Planning concept. 3d rendered image

I know there always feels like in ministry that there is so much to do and to get done. How do you tackle the things you need to do? Get rid of the things you should not be doing? Keep your teams focused and going all in the same direction?

There is a way to use the word PLAN which could be used as a tool to help keep you moving along with your mission. One place that has recorded using this PLAN is over on: Fuller Youth Institute.

Originally published as “Evaluation Part 2: Planning the Work and Working the P.L.A.N.” by Mark Maines for FYI in April 2006.

Lasting Results
Action Strategies
Next Steps

By tackling these questions in succession, many have found that their ministries can stay more focused on the mission, more informed about what to do next, and more accountable to see those plans through. Here’s basically what it looks like:


What we want to carry out.
What are the most important things we need to do in our key ministry areas to move our mission forward?
What are the things we need to do and complete in the coming year? Coming months? Coming weeks? Coming days?
Lasting Results: Setting the targets for performance

Lasting Results:

What will be the results that will help us know we have accomplished our priorities?
How will we set these targets so that they become an exercise in faith as well as effective leadership?
Action strategies: Setting the stage for execution

Action Strategies:

How will we go about accomplishing what we want to see happen?
What are the right strategies, or best practices, that we might use?

Next Steps:

Making our “to do” lists
Who will do the work?
When will it be accomplished?

Have you made your P.L.A.N. for ministry success?
What tools do you use to keep you moving forward with your mission?

Successful budgeting for children’s ministry


I am sure at the time of this writing many of you are going through what i am going through, the budget process. Even if you are not going through it at the time of reading this I would recommend sending this to your Evernote web clipper account for future use.

Here is one way of budgeting but it has brought my team and I great success for the next year of ministry.

We create what we call a success map. This is a document of 5-7 BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) that will need all the children’s ministries to tackle in the new year for success to be had. I am the one who puts those 5-7 goals out there but they mostly show the big goals my pastor has for our church. The main difference is that I will convert what I get from him into language that my teams can take on.

A. My pastor wants to create new ways to reach into our community.
B. I will translate into – Each cm department will create at least 1 new way to reach new families in our community that will equal a 5% gain of your current attendance.

After I have heard my pastor’s heart, set the children’s ministries 5-7 BHAG’s, given this to all my coordinators they go away and answer how each of their departments will help in accomplishing the BHAG’s. They will also add in some of their own ministry goals for their teams as well, and break these goals into quarters through the year. Some BHAG’s can not be accomplished in just one attempt and so many of them will continually be chipped at throughout the year, but at the end it can be said if they accomplished it or not.

The purpose of breaking everything into quarters is so all the coordinators can keep one another accountable for progress through the year.

Budgeting comes easy now that we know what we want to do, because we just go back in and assign dollar amounts to the quarterly goals. Using the example from above:
BHAG Goal:

1. Each cm department will create at least 1 new way to reach new families in our community that will equal a 5% gain of your current attendance.

Event/Place: Safe Place event. (Parents can drop their kids off for babysitting with our trained volunteers for free so they can go on a date, work late, catch up on whatever etc. from 4pm-7pm 1st Saturday each month).

Cost: Pizza to feed kids. 200 kids x $2.00 each child = $400.00 x 3 1st Saturdays = $1200.00

Hopefully you get the idea. You would keep pricing out all your goals and assign dollar amounts and at the end you will know what you want to do, the amount you will need etc. This is not the format we use with our success maps, that you will need to decide what is best for you. This is the formula we use though for successful budgeting in our children’s ministry. It also helps to see ahead of time what months are going to be more expensive than others if we need to make any adjustments.

Stop the lie: not enough time. Face the truth: poor priorities

frantic man

I hear all the time from so many people as they rush around claiming they do not have enough time to get it all done. I strongly disagree!

I can hear many of you yelling at your monitor now: “Todd I am not wasting my time either.” You may be correct with that statement as well.

So, what is holding you back from getting your stuff done? I believe for many it is bad habits that have crept in unknowingly. Secondly it is “busy work” that holds you hostage.

To free up time for the proper task for you it is imperative that you know where your time is going now. Use a journal, use an app, whatever is best for you but track honestly your time spent and how it was spent each day. Do this for a few weeks (this is why most do not ever succeed here is because of the investment of truly discovering how your time is spent).

Once you have a good record of time spent look it over and see if you are giving an unhealthy amount of your time to items that pay back the least toward where God is heading? Have the courage to make the adjustments necessary to give most of your time to items that payback the most for your time.

Keep in mind, that most of the time people are wanting to add instead of subtract. The reason many have when creating time/task-management systems is for the sole purpose of just adding more into their everyday lives. Why not subtract and with what you do invest in make it those items that pay back the most for you?

What are some items you do that could be stopped?

What items pay you back the most for your time and efforts?

What will it take to stop these items and focus on the items to stay?

My method of delegation.


The more I talk with people the more I realize delegation is not as understood as I assume. It is with this new understanding that I want to offer up the method of delegation that I have been taught over the years. I am not claiming this is original (hopefully a lot of people use these steps) and it is only one way, but it is mine and it works for me when followed.

Too often delegation is poorly executed, frustrating both the person delegating and the person being delegated to. There should be a benefit for both parties but often one or both parties feel dissatisfied.

Here is one approach to delegation:

1. Define. You need to know exactly what you are going to delegate. Don’t be vague.
2. Plan. Write down how you will present this task. List potential concerns and objections
3. Select. Which of your team has the best skills to deliver the results.
4. Explain. Tell the person why the task is important and why they are right for it.
5. Define success. Be clear about what success looks like, if possible with a measurable target.
6. Set limits. Let them know what they are accountable for and where they can get help. Don’t forget that last part. Oftentimes after delegation has started the person working on it runs into a snag and has no idea where to turn to for some help or guidance. Here is one way you separate delegation from dumping.
7. Invite doubt. Many volunteers start excited when delegated to but then feel that expressing doubt about the project or their ability is a sign of weakness. Encourage them to ask questions and assess the project on their own terms. Also take note of the previous point in number six.
8. Get commitment. Don’t expect immediate agreement. Give them time to think it over. Never rush this stage.
9. Agree. Set milestones and time lines and how you will monitor progress. Get them to suggest as much of this as possible.
10. Recognize and reward. Successful completion of a delegated project or task should mean something. Be clear from the outset how much value you place on it and reflect that in the reward you offer.

There you go, 10 steps I find useful when I want to delegate task and responsibilities

If you want your team to fail, then practice these ideas.


There is a ton written on leadership and what to do if you want to succeed. I thought seeing that there is so much coming from that end with nothing resulting from it, I would try the reverse psychology idea and write from the other direction in hopes of some better results.

If you want to see your team fail then keep setting those impossible goals.
“Big Hairy Audacious Goals” are amazing in terms of getting people to really go beyond where they thought they could, but set too aggressive a goal and a leader can make it impossible for the team to succeed.

Leaders have to show credibility by creating goals that are compelling but not impossible. A good metric is that everyone should feel the goal to be about 10 percent out of their reach. Much more, and the team shuts down at the beginning because the members think success can’t possibly happen. You as the leader may know better but if the team feels it isn’t possible you have now gotten to far ahead of them and the results are never good when this happens.

I have always heard it said that if you let your team know you are a few steps ahead, you are the leader. You let known that you become too many steps ahead you will become the martyr.

If you want your team to fail then keep measuring the wrong things.
Measurement ties back directly to the goals, as well. There’s a lot of human behavior that goes to work every week in ministries, but it goes to work attempting to do something. Make sure that they’re clear on what they’re supposed to do. You can’t blame the construction crew for building to the blueprints and not liking the house. Proper measurement helps decide whether the efforts or the underlying goals are off.

A related problem is the manager who embraces optimism and hates hearing bad news. Employees will tailor their reports to better fit the expectations and prejudices of the leader. That may be comforting in ways, but the practice will undermine all goals and performance.

There’s 2 things that I think you should keep doing if you want your teams to fail.

What would you add?

There is a balance in Leadership


Ever since I have moved to our new house in Kansas City, MO, I have truly been into my yard and gardening. While involved in these two relaxing activities for myself it has given me a lot of time to think and a ton of leadership comparisons to roll around in my brain. Here’s one.

Producing a healthy garden it takes the right amount of water, sunlight, fertilizer, and care. Too much water or too little of any one ingredient could result in damaging your gardening. Just like the best gardeners learn through experience and reflection what their gardens need to grow and develop, seasoned leaders learn what it takes to help people and organizations achieve their potential. I think they learn how much each of the items listed below need to be done.

— Plan and Execute.

Planning is important, but so is execution. Some leaders over plan and under execute. Of course some leaders do just the opposite. They’re busy having meetings, doing key-note presentations but making no improvements in the operation.

— Task and People

Some leaders are too task-focused. It feels everything is all business. People are used for getting a task done. On the other hand some leaders are too focused on pleasing people at the cost of solving problems and getting the work done.

— Results and Process

Some leaders only focus on results. “What’s the bottom line?” Results are important but so is process—how things are done. The how can often times decide how much results you can get at different sizes of growth. The seasoned leader focuses on both what is being accomplished and how it’s being accomplished.

— Coaching and Letting Go

An important part of a leader’s job is to coach people on how to be more effective and efficient. However, there is an important difference between too little and too much coaching. Too much can frustrate initiative. Seasoned leaders know the difference between providing too much (micro-managing) and too little (not developing your team) coaching.

— Work Life and Family Life

Some leaders get totally consumed by their job and neglect their family. To many jobs have been turned into mistresses.

Seasoned leaders know finding the right balance doesn’t mean moderation in all things. It means using the right mix of various ingredients to help people grow. Great leaders have the wisdom to know what actions are needed to meet success.

What would you add to this list?

Task Management obstacles and solutions

young man to hold up clock with hand

I spend every month with my coaching protegés working on their task management skills. It is a firm belief of mine that those of us in children’s ministries need to be some of the best task managers around. Name any other ministry in the church that has to oversee one of the largest if not the largest volunteer base, run our own worship, reach so many generations of people including their parents and grandparents (because as we all know with kids every family member wants to know what is going on). We also need to run training for more diverse groups, outreach, events, and the list just goes on and on. With all of this along with all the more, we need to become great in task management.

I have complied a list of potential obstacles that could hinder your task management.

– Data overload: Constant collection of emails, text messages, IMs and news pouring into your inbox. When you have a new notification, do you automatically STOP what you are doing, click, read, close? This takes up time, removes your focus and interrupts your work flow.

– Lack of focus: jumping around between tasks decreases productivity and output. Multi-tasking is not what it’s cracked up to be. Stick with one task, finish it and move on.

– Procrastination: when you consistently put off tasks, you end up in a time crunch and can miss deadlines or leave things undone.

– Distractions: take you away from the task, cuts into your time, diminishes focus. Sometimes it is good to be unavailable in this incredibly ever-increasing world of connectedness.

– Disorganization: misplace, misplaced file or lose things and you must waste time searching. I cover this in-depth through coaching about gathering Points.

– Being a digital hoarder: when your inbox and folders are overstuffed, you spend more time searching for documents and emails. This inefficiency wastes your time

“You can manage information and the interruptions, because the problem really doesn’t lie in the amount of information and interruptions. The problem lies with our methods of processing that information and handling the interruptions.”

Some suggestions to get organized.

– Chunk your daily schedule with like-minded task.

– Schedule checking emails at specific times and stick to it. It’s amazing how many people can actually wait to get a response from you over their email sent to you.

– Use your calendar to schedule appointments and to-do’s.

– Use the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. system.

– Keep workplace organize and clear working area at the end of the day.

– Practice the art of delegation.

– Turn off the television

Outside of these quick task management ideas, I would suggest getting a coach who can help develop these concepts more with you.

Loaded iPad mini with Scanner Pro for more Productivity


I am using a new tool with my iPad mini that helps in making my iPad more productive all the time. It is Scanner Pro.

Some of Scanner Pro’s Powerful Features:

* Multi-page/Multi-format – It is simple to scan multi-page documents. It doesn’t matter if they are portrait or landscape, and the app makes it easy to rearrange pages within the document.

* PDF – Share scanned docs in standard PDF format or JPG if you prefer images.

* Folders – You can create document folders to keep your document library neat and organized. I keep different areas for work, and home.

* iPhone and iPad – Scanner Pro is a universal app that works on both iPad and iPhone. (Meaning you only have to buy it once.)

* Share Almost Anywhere – Once you scan your documents, you can share or save them in many services including Dropbox, Email, Google Drive, or Evernote.

* Syncs Via iCloud – Scanner Pro syncs between your devices via iCloud. So, if you scan a document with your iPad and later want to use if from your iPhone, it is already there.

So next time you need to turn that receipt in that you have in your billfold for reimbursement or you will miss out on getting paid, or maybe, you’re in a meeting and need to scan and send some documents to your office, or you are trying to capture a business card, never fear just go ahead and open up Scanner Pro and get the job done. I forgot to mention, you can also set it for automatic border detection. Again, this will save you more time as you no longer have to crop the photo yourself, Scanner Pro will get the job done for you.

To see how quick and easy it is to use Scanner Pro with your iPad, watch this short video:

Continued Ideas toward better efficiency


I started this topic over here with Part 1 of Ideas toward better efficiency. Now to continue toward better efficiency.

I find it helpful to rank my to-do items so that I will spend the most time on the biggest, most important projects and I will schedule them during my strong most productive time. I do talk more about this in part 1.

Some basic questions I ask myself as I prepare for better efficiency:
What’s due today?
What’s due this week?
What’s due next week?

Some further steps I take include:
* I will spend 10-15 minutes each night before bed prioritizing my daily tasks.

* Spend 30-60 minutes on a regular scheduled day that I have determined I am the most productive for planning the next week so I can “hit the ground running” on Monday morning.

* End each day with a clean desk or laptop desktop. A clean desk = work is done.

* Use a tickler file (electronic or paper. My preference is electronic because it goes with me everywhere) to remind you of things you need to do in the week ahead.

* Use categories and rules to automatically sort incoming emails. Another tool that I use which I truly enjoy is

* Use your email search feature to find emails. If your email client does not have a good search feature then try Gmail, or Mail to suggest just a couple. Sometimes creating a ton of email folders make it harder to find what you want because you may forget what folder you actually put it in.

* Use your weekly completed tasks to create your progress report for evaluation purposes. Every week you want to keep an accomplished to do list for the use of evaluation so you can learn and become more efficient.

* Always ask, “What’s the next step?”

* Reward yourself for doing the things you don’t want to do with a task that you are excited about.

* Keep a MBWA (Management By Walking Around) list in Evernote always, and use that to create a to-do list once a week.

* Balance your work and personal calendars so that you are not trying to do too much. If married, recruit your spouse, share your calendar with your spouse. They will help you stay balanced.

* Write things down so you don’t waste time trying to remember things – and use a system you can trust so that you don’t waste time trying to remember where you wrote things down. This is why I keep everything in Evernote.

There you go. Some ideas and a brief look into my system of trying to be more efficient. What is yours or what would you add to my system.

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