Three things are a part of this process: information collection, analysis, and feedback. This part of the planning will involve a gathering and analysis of data (past, present, and future) that provides a base for pursuing the planning process. It should identify and analyze the key trends, forces, and phenomena having a potential impact on the formulation and implementation of strategies. The planning committee is attempting at this stage to answer the questions: Where are we? Where did we come from? How well are we doing? The two sources of information for this study are records and reports of the church and a survey of church opinions.
The internal analysis consists of an assessment of the organization strengths and limitations. It seeks to determine how well the church is doing. Essentially, it is an appraisal of how well the organization is accomplishing its objectives. Examples of factors considered are membership, programs, staff, facilities, finances, worship, missions, fellowship, and publicity. Much of the strategic change process necessarily focuses on the development, mobilization, and allocation of resources, physical, personnel and financial, to carry out a new direction or to implement a new action. Facilities are often a crucial item.
The committee needs to look back 5–10 years and try to establish trends that will help it to answer the questions above. The committee needs to ask questions of themselves, and the church membership such as: What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? What suggestions for improvement can be made? The group needs to look at the effectiveness of the church. This is a hard task, and there is more discussion and opinion than hard facts.
History of church – when organized, number of charter members, reason for starting, pastors and their ministries, new buildings, splits, churches started, growth trends, and factors that affected growth. The study should place the church in the organization life-cycle as presented in an earlier chapter.
Church programs – for each major program of the church, the attendance, the membership (by age and sex), and the workers. The programs to be included include the following:
a. Pastoral ministries – should be examined in such areas as worship services, outreach, following pastor, and the work of deacons.
b. Educational program – should be examined in such areas as teacher training, growth, and meeting needs of everyone.
c. Mission programs – should be examined in such areas as congregation involved, enough funds, and broad enough support.
d. Recreation programs – should be examined in such areas as for all ages, good philosophy, leadership, and facilities.
As the internal analysis is being conducted, it is very important that the particular programs are not considered in isolation. Programs cannot be considered in isolation, since they often interact with one another and they compete with one another for the scarce resources of the organization.
Finances – chart by year the total receipts, total disbursements, mission expenditures, salary expenditures, debt retirement, building costs; and gather current data on the budget, the debt, the assets, the weekly giving pattern with the number of givers at various contribution levels.
Facilities – consider the capacity, the average use, the need and the condition of the land, parking lot, auditorium, educational space, the fellowship areas, and the administrative areas.
Membership – determine the total active and inactive by ages, the number that join each year by baptism and by letter, the number that leave each year by letter, by death, or to other denominations, the length of time people are members, if they own or rent their dwelling, average income level, marital status, educational achievement, type of vocation and distance traveled to the church.
Staff – job descriptions, personnel policies, selection process, compensation, records, supervision, morale.
A survey form for church participants to fill out is very significant for this part of the study. It might be distributed in 2–3 weeks of Sunday morning worship services to get the highest percentage of responses. (Samples of these forms are available in many strategic planning books.) A form should be devised with multiple answers that are easy to check off. Information to ask for on the survey could include:
I. Personal information:
c. Marital status
d. Time of membership in years
e. Time of living in community
f. Distance live from the church
g. Frequency of attendance of church
h. Services usually attended at church:
i. Number of ministry positions at the church
j. Reasons (1, 2, 3) that you attend this church
k. Number of close friends in this church
II. Church information:
(You might use below average, average, above average to rate the following.)
a. Potential for growth of church
b. Church involvement with helping people in need
c. Outreach program
d. Discipleship training program
e. Children’s program
f. Youth program
g. Music program
h. Prayer program
i. Church member visitation program
j. Preaching program
k. Communication program
l. Visitors would find the church (not friendly, friendly, very friendly)
m. Priorities of the church should be (number 1–5, 1 being most important)
n. Programs that should receive more emphasis in the church (list programs)
o. Programs the church should start are _____
p. In the next 10 years, the church could grow to an attendance of _____
q. I wish the pastor would _____
r. Major issue facing church next 5 years is _____
s. Our biggest need in facilities right now is _____
III. Survey might also deal with specific issues that are confronting the church:
a. Times of worship services
b. Music for worship services
c. Next staff member to add
Surveys like this are available to be looked at; design one that will fit your church best. The survey can give you factual information about members and also opinion information about how the church is perceived by the members.
If data is available to do comparisons of data from your church and from a group of other churches, or from national figures, this will help immensely with the analysis and interpretation. Having raw data is sometimes meaningless unless there is something to compare the data with. The comparison may be on the basis of percentages or of ratios.
This is a major part of the study, and when it is completed, the committee will have a very good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the church. They will know who the church is, and where it has come from.