In a recent article, church consultant George Bullard reminds church leaders they need to answer two big questions before they start a new building. He writes:
“It is important to remember the three S’s about your next church building or retrofitting project. The three S’s are Strategy, Staff and Structure. Almost always they need to come in that order. Many congregational and ministry leaders still do not get this message.
“I was reminded of this order when a Christian ministry contacted me about helping develop a strategic plan for their new building. They have not yet developed a strategy that deals with the why and how, they do not have any programs, and they are not staffed to operate the proposed building. In this situation there may be time to address Strategy and Staff and to delay Structure.
“Typically there must first be a Strategy that responds to a clear need or opportunity for ministry. That Strategy must be launched. Staff must be put in place to enhance that fulfillment of that Strategy. Only when there is no other way to move forward should Structure be acquired, constructed, or retrofitted to house the program.
“Strategy before Structure has been a mantra of many people in the organizational world for decades—if not centuries. I have often used this phrase in personal conversation and group presentations. In Christian ministry settings I would prefer, however, to state it as Ministry Strategy before Structure.
“Ministry Strategy is defined as the spiritual strategic direction of the congregation and the disciplemaking processes of the congregation that relates it to God, one another, and the context in which it serves. These are supported by the programs, ministries, and activities of the congregation that provide a framework in which the best possible relationship experiences can occur.
“Staff—volunteer and paid—should be put in place to empower and support the Ministry Strategy. Existing space should be used to launch the Strategy. If it works, if it is sustainable, then new or retrofitted multi-purpose space may be needed. Once successful, significant, and sustainable action is attained then it is time for Structure.
“While Structure needs to be dreamed about, envisioned as to its particulars, made desirable, and potential funding sources identified, it is not until the new program, ministry, or activity starts maturing that Structure becomes the top priority action.” (Read the full article.)