Understanding the Strategic Orientation Document



Several days ago, we completed the 2020 Stewardship Advisory. It is now part of history, and I do believe that we have a valuable instrument to make history with our strategic orientation document. During those two days, our main focus was to plan our future actions in the context of the “I Will Go” GC Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

I have to admit that over the years, I have become less passionate about the process of planning. The reason is very simple; too often we are planning with little or no implementation. You know what I’m talking about. Interestingly, the construction of this current plan was an exciting experience for me. We had some intense sessions during the past two months, and the hours spent in the advisory were a blessing. However, one disturbing question remains: what will be the fate of this strategic document? After listening to Gary Krause, the world Adventist Mission director, reminding us about the relationship between God’s final mission and regular and systematic giving, my conviction that the Stewardship Ministries Department has a pertinent role to play was refreshed and revitalized. We have the solemn responsibility to succeed in the implementation

phase! As a postlude to our advisory, I would like to reinforce the assurance that we indeed have a great plan to address today’s challenges. Our plan’s strength is due to two major factors: it is part of something bigger, and it rests upon the four colonnades of effective implementation. Being part of something bigger does make a difference! Think of a room, say a bedroom, that is comfortable, well furnished, and stylishly designed. Think now of the same bedroom as part of a mansion or a castle! It’s not the same thing. Being part of something bigger does make a difference. The stewardship orientation document is nota stand-alone plan. It is one piece, an important one, but it was developed as a response to the “I Will Go” global church strategic document. We should never lose sight of this connection. There is no place for isolation and competition. On the contrary, it calls for interaction and partnership.

For us to appreciate the strong link with “I Will Go,” let me share with you two key performance indicators of “I Will Go”: 

KPI 6.5 of “I WILL GO”

All members and yet-to-be-baptized young people embrace and practice stewardship principles regarding time, spiritual gifts, and tithe and offerings.

KPI 9.6 of “I WILL GO”

GC Stewardship Ministries, in consultation with division counterparts, develops and implements a well-defined strategy for achieving increases in tithe and offerings in each organizational unit that reflect changes in membership and inflation.

Based on this mandate, our strategic document is designed as a roadmap to the mobilization of all church members to both support and do mission. “As I go, I will use my God-given resources to drive mission forward.” This is the heart of our plan.

Let’s now talk about the four colonnades of effective implementation, which are based on the framework recommended in the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals.* They are deliberately embedded in the stewardship orientation document.

The first colonnade: Focus on the wildly important

After hours of brainstorming, we decided to prioritize the many good goals and to concentrate on one or two goals. Our assumption was that it is not possible for an organization, a department, or even for a good leader, at a given time, to chase after several major goals without losing effectiveness. This conviction is clearly reflected in our proposed goal: “Each year an additional 2% of the membership at the start of the year is participating in tithing and regular giving.” Stewardship is rightly my all in response to God’s all, but it is not possible for one single department to focus on all. For this reason, we have chosen to concentrate on raising the level of participation in regular and systematic giving.

The second colonnade: Act on lead measures

Lead measures are those actions that will make a decisive impact on the achievement of our crucially important goal. They are both influential and predictive actions. What do I mean? Lead measures can be affected, either positively or negatively, and once they are in place we can expect desired outcomes. Our plan does not only tell people about the inspiring goal but also provides a clear pathway toward the goal. This is the function of the lead measures.

Our orientation document organizes itself around these three lead measures:

—Empower members spiritually.

—Provide stewardship education for all.

—Facilitate accountability and transparency.

The third colonnade: Make provision for a compelling scoreboard

Here, the focus is on measuring the progress of both the goal and the lead measures. People who know their score perform differently. It is inspiring and important to hear stories and testimonies of faithfulness, but a full picture of reality remains a necessity. Over the past years, a clear scoreboard has become the missing component within stewardship ministries. Stewardship educators and other church leaders need to know if they are winning or losing! This explains the focus of our plan on revitalizing reporting at all levels. We make regular mention of “Report about the achievement of the goal,” and “Report about the achievement of the lead measures.”

The fourth colonnade: Create a pattern of accountability

Make people accountable, answerable for their commitments and actions. This is the missing element of many organizational plans. Accountability in our plan implies that each key person in his or her own team makes a commitment about the actions that he or she will accomplish to support the lead measures during a given period (month, quarter, or year), and later reports on what was accomplished in regard to that commitment. Our plan makes provision for the pattern of accountability through the Account, Review, and Plan meetings at all levels. It is not rare that our extreme courtesy and reluctance to embarrass others is reducng accountability within our church organization. For the sake of effectiveness, accountability needs to be restored.

You are already thinking of your own plan and advisory. Many have already set dates. Some will replicate, others will adapt or simply build their own plan. You know what is best for your territory. Nonetheless, let us make sure that we don’t have more plans for our already full drawers, but rather roadmaps to transform reality. Keep a tight connection between your plan and the “I Will Go” strategic plan. We are part of something bigger. Remember to establish your plan on the four colonnades of effective implementation.

I’ll borrow these words of David, the little lad from Bethlehem, to conclude: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Sam. 17:45). The challenge of inviting members to trust God as Owner and Provider, and to partner in His final mission is a gigantic endeavor for such a time. Let us move forward with holy boldness to transform reality.

Aniel Barbe

Pastor Aniel Barbe is an associate director of Stewardship Ministries and editor of Dynamic Steward at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland.