When you hear someone refer to a church as a business, I don’t blame you if you shudder a little bit. The idea of any church running itself as a traditional business is alarming and, rightfully so. That said, the church is technically a business/organization under the government and we can learn from companies through features like a church business plan.
A church business plan takes the idea of laying out a document with everything someone needs to know at a glance about an organization. Instead of making it about maximizing profits and return on investments, though, it is about building the Kingdom of God.
In my time serving in a large church, I find the most successful and growing churches nail down an efficient church business plan.
- What Is A Church Business Plan?
- Why Do You Need A Church Business Plan?
- What Should Be Included In Your Business Plan?
- How To Create A Business Plan For Your Church
- Church Business Plan Template & Sample
What Is A Church Business Plan?
At its core, a strategic plan isn’t too much different from one you might find in a standard brick-and-mortar store. The idea is to lay out who your business (religious organization, in this case) is, what its purpose is, and how you will go about accomplishing your goals.
A church business plan doesn’t have to be as detailed or extensive in its raw data, specifics, and legal jargon like you might find in a regular business. It is possible to shrink it down to a single page where you succinctly and adequately describe the top level details of your church.
A church business plan is a straightforward, technical document. It can include some of your more passionate ideas but this page should essentially be as dry as can be.
Why Do You Need A Church Business Plan?
There are a few reasons why you need a strategic plan, starting with the fact that you should take your church’s plans seriously. If you want to be taken seriously by others and experience church growth, building out a clear plan can help with that.
The point of the church business plan is to show yourself and your staff members the steps moving forward for your church. Laying this out for your church staff will ensure that everyone is on the same page with a clear focus in front of them.
This is especially crucial for any new church staff members you add to your team down the road. They weren’t with an original church leader when you first formed your vision and goals, so a business plan can be part of orienting them to your team.
It goes beyond your church’s four walls, though. A church strategic plan is also essential for partnering with third-parties, be it investors, businesses, charity organizations, donors, and even other churches in your community.
A business plan that you bring to the table immediately informs and shows the potential partner how serious you are about your business. Since few churches do this from my experience, I find that organizations are more willing to work with a church plant with an actual plan.
What Should Be Included In Your Business Plan?
The strategic planning process can be daunting, especially if you don’t have a professional on your team with experience with these. I find that a business plan for a church doesn’t need to be as lengthy or specific as one with an actual for-profit company or startup.
That said, there are some bare minimum sections and features you should absolutely include in your church business plan. Here’s what you need:
- Executive summary (can go by a different name as you will see in our template)
- Values and vision for your church
- Mission statement
- Current goals (both short-term and long-term)
- Plan of action for how to strategically execute those goals
- List of ministries and current staff members
- Financial (can be included in the prior section)
How To Create A Business Plan For Your Church?
When it comes to creating a church business plan, it can be a group effort between a few core staff members. I find this helps alleviate some of the stress and ensures that everyone’s ideas shine through. As mentioned, you can absolutely cover a business plan on a single page or even two without sacrificing the importance of it.
1. Values and Vision (Executive Summary)
A business plan should begin with the overview of your church and what will be addressed below. Businesses call this the executive summary, but I like to call this area your values and vision. This is where you break down what your church stands for, what it believes in, and what it wants to do.
This is a brief section, only meant to be a couple of paragraphs at best. I like to divide it between the now (what you believe in and currently do) with the future (what you are praying to see happen). Keep this section as brief and engaging as possible to hook in the reader who might just help you make this all happen.
2. Mission Statement
Your mission statement should be its own section when it comes to a church business plan, not included in the previous area. This is because your mission is why you are doing what you’re doing. It is the central mantra of your church and should be given the spotlight it deserves.
The mission is your ultimate goal for your church, which you can word however you like. Any variation of building out the Kingdom of God or seeing everyone become believers works in this case. A couple of sentences or a short paragraph will do here.
3. Current Goals
This third section is where we get into the nitty gritty of the church business plans. In this area, you lay out your current goals. While your mission statement is to see the whole world believe, your goals are smaller, more focused ideas that you can actually tackle with your church alone.
These should include both short-term and long-term goals that your church has. A short-term goal might be something like completing the renovations of your sanctuary and buying a new piece of land. A long-term goal, though, could be to take that new land and build a homeless shelter or food bank for the nearby community.
4. Plan of Action
Your goals and ideas need action to make them happen. This is the section where you detail the strategies you have for tackling your various goals. This could be noting that you need X amount of budget for Y purpose and go over the exact steps needed to happen.
Your Plan of Action section can take up several pages on its own, so I prefer bullet points here that you can elaborate on in separate documents or meetings. Other Plan of Action could include smaller steps that build up to the greater goals.
For instance, if you want a new piece of land for creating a new children’s center for the congregation, this is where you note steps for that. It could include meeting with nearby landowners, garnering interest from investors, doing fundraisers to gather funds for it, and finding the right construction company.
5. Ministries and Staff Members
This final section is a bit of a catch-all area. You want the people you’re possibly partnering with or hiring onto your staff to know more about your church. Here, I like to list out all of the core ministries that you have at your church, a very brief description of them, and your staff members.
That is rather straightforward enough, but it gives someone who might not regularly attend your weekly church service a better idea of it. In addition, I also like to include any financial areas in this section.
If you want the person to know how much your church brought in last year, your current capital, and monthly costs, this is the place to do it, or create a separate section for it entirely, if you feel it is necessary.
Church Business Plan Template & Sample
You can find my church business plan template here (simply click the link and make a copy of the document to edit). This blank template offers you the sections that I believe are crucial to any church serious about organizing its ideas for possible partners.
In addition, I included a sample of a filled-out business plan that offers a look at what you should include in each section. This sample isn’t directly taken from any one church—I used a made-up church in this case—but it is taken from some of the elements of past churches I worked with.
Plan For The Good And The Bad
The church business plan is a document used for information, growth, and investment in your church. For the most part, everything surrounding this plan is dealing with the hopefuls and positives. But you also need to plan ahead when it comes to the negatives, too.
There are struggles, disagreements, and issues that will inevitably happen when we come together to make a real change in the world. For those situations, a business plan won’t help in the slightest. I recommend creating a church risk management plan, which is there to mitigate and solve issues that can and will pop up.