Skip to content

Church Strategy

Tools and Trends for Strategic Planning

Monthly Archives: December 2009

Roger Martin has a nice piece on HBR entitled Why Most CEOs Are Bad at Strategy.  He reminds us that strategy really comes down to two questions: “Where to play?” and “How to win?”  Martin notes that most CEOs get to the top by answering one of those questions well.

The church is different, but the result is the same: pastors are bad at strategy.  Unlike CEOs, most senior pastors don’t end up in the “big boy chair” by doing one thing well until they have slain all corporate rivals.  They rise to the top by being specialists and then find it hard to branch out when they get to the top.

By contrast, most pastors – particularly of large churches – rose to prominence by being amazing generalists.  As their churches grew, they were great speakers, good counselors, good leaders of people, good managers of talent, good at logistics, and – we hope – godly people spending lots of time in their prayer closets.

But the result is the same: The pastor of the big complex church finds himself expected to be amazing at everything: delivering awesome Sunday sermons, having an inspirational word for those struggling, being an exemplary husband and father, and being an exceptional visionary and strategist.

Next time, I will discuss the “Where to Play?” and “How to Win?” decisions that churches face.

He concludes that “Strategy is a creative act and the way to produce good strategy is to go beyond basis analysis to creatively integrate your choices concerning where you play and how you propose to win.”