This year the Parish Council has established a Five-Year Strategic Plan. This process was two phases: data collection and then the actual planning that focuses on mission and mission support activities and articulates the theological (why), the pastoral (what), and the temporal (how).
The data collection was in three specific areas:
- Who are we?
- What are our resources?
- And what is our journey?
What data are being collected for the Parish Council’s Strategic Planning?
The first task is to answer the question Who are we? Using the parish registry, we are studying our demographics (age, sex, household structure, families with children, and duration of membership) and looking at the geographic distribution of parishioners by household type. The parish registry is the source that provides us with the information that is critical for our planning.
Are you registered?
Last year Council conducted both a registration and a re-registration. But our registry is far from comprehensive. Don’t assume because you registered 20 years ago that you’re automatically in the new one. This fall we will be handing out registration forms to fill the gaps in our registry.
What other data are being collected for the Parish Council’s Strategic Planning?
In addition to demographics, we also must examine our culture at St V because it has a strong influence on how we face our future. Do we hunker down, focused on surviving, or do we embrace change and thrive?
To explore our culture, we want parishioners who have opinions or who are key influencers to give us a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) assessing the health of our parish community. You don’t have to wait for us to ask you, if you’re willing to prayerfully consider and thoughtfully complete the survey, contact Parish Council President Audrey Rogers. It’s important and it will be appreciated.
How will we evaluate our resources for the Strategic Planning?
Parish resources fall into these areas: financial, facilities, and people (or as Fr. Dick likes to say “bucks, building, and bodies”). We will be examining income, expenses, and trends in donations for past five years. We will also examine the facility and campus and our needs for upgrades, maintenance, and security. Our Mass attendance trends, membership, and engagement in ministry and mission are at the heart of our being a Catholic Christian community. How healthy are our committees: what is their membership by duration, attendance, leadership? How meaningful are our programs: what is the level of participation and attendance? To what degree do we serve others: what type of service, our participation in it, and how many do we serve?
While much of the needed information already exists in our registry, records, and committee minutes, the most important assessment lies in our people.
- What is our spiritual journey today and where should we find nurture on the way?
- If the vision of our parish community is “To become a People visibly transformed by Word and Sacrament to Serve,” to what degree are we living our vision?
- What does it mean to us to become visibly transformed? For what are we hungering?
We hope to capture this more elusive aspect of our evaluation process through a pew survey at weekend Masses. But independent opinions on this would be gratefully received.
What happens after data collection?
The actual work of developing the plan! We are applying the methods proposed by the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management. Planning begins with clarity of mission. It is helpful that we went through the process of re-visioning our mission statement in 2010. With this in mind, the next step is to fully understand our current reality: What is emerging, peaking, declining, and disappearing from our reality? It is here that our data collection will be of use in identifying 4 to 7 key features of our current reality.
Studying these key features will produce up to 7 key focus areas to be addressed within the pastoral life of the parish over the next 1 to 3 years. Also included should be key measures of success and options and adaptations of the strategy for the following 1 to 3 years.
Too often parish strategic planning fails because it is not mission-derived, data-driven, and prayerfully discerned. The planning process becomes dense with pages and pages of program compromises to fit an array of personal agendas or private turf. Fifty page tomes heavy on detailed activities are produced and immediately start to gather dust on the shelf. We will not do that.
We are interested in producing an adaptive plan that is no more than 3 to 4 pages. It outlines where we want to be in 5 years in the key focus areas and leaves the programmatic implementation to the expertise and creativity of our committees and staff. The Council and pastoral team provide oversight and evaluation to complete the adaptive feedback loop.
Questions? Comments? Audrey Rogers 443-627-8804 or firstname.lastname@example.org.