Planning for Evangelism

A good singer won’t join a mediocre choir. The situation is a Catch-22. You can’t attract better singers without being a better choir. You have probably seen the situation in your own congregation: you know there’s someone in those pews who sings in the local choral society but who also begs off any request to sing in the Sunday choir, even when they are already worshiping there regularly. The mediocre choir has hard work to do. They have to pick their music carefully, they have to put in extra rehearsal hours and most importantly they must sing purposefully, joyfully and prayerfully. Suddenly, there are new voices in the stalls: a better choir attracts better singers.

Our churches on the whole have a similar problem: new people won’t join mediocre churches. When newcomers arrive in our narthexes, do they see tired leadership, sagging buildings and uninspired worship and outreach? Like the mediocre choir, who would want to join? If we expect to be attractive to newcomers we will have to build up better churches.

To bring churches out of mediocrity, we need good planning. Every church in this diocese has improved their stewardship planning through the manual and methods taught by Canon Charles LaFond. By careful planning in months ahead we have better campaigns and better budgets. The benefits of planning are clear when we see how well our churches are faring financially during the worst economy of our lifetimes.

Our churches now plan our stewardship campaigns with joy and prayer. We have choirs that rehearse and work hard and offer beauty to our worship of God. If we look beyond any specific ministry, we can do strategic planning that can build better churches overall. This work can improve all our ministries as once and make us more likely to attract and retain new members.

During 2009 and 2010, Grace Episcopal Church in East Concord went through the hard, prayerful and joyful work of strategic planning. Guided by Canon Charles LaFond, our Bishop’s Committee led the rest of the church in setting goals that were clear, measurable and attainable. He lead us in evaluating our strengths and weaknesses and in interviewing community leaders outside the congregation for new opportunities for mission and ministry.

This strategic planning work has completely transformed our mission church in East Concord. We have started new outreach programs to address previously unmet needs in our neighborhood. We are hosting fun events for our community, like our Pig Roast and Christmas Tree Lighting. We are offering more frequent Christian Education and worship services. What’s more: our Bishop’s Committee meetings are no longer humdrum but full of energy as we continue to pursue these goals for the next three years!

Strategic Planning is the ultimate evangelism tool. The planning is hard work and time intensive but it will raise the quality of all your ministries at once. If a church’s leadership is fully engaged, if its outreach makes a local difference and if you are regularly inviting the neighborhood in, then new people will not only visit but stay. Not only will they stay, they will commit to your great ministries and you will retain new active members. Canon LaFond helped Grace-East Concord build a better church. Call him and get your congregation on fire too!


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