St. John’s is currently working on their strategic plan, which we were encouraged to develop by our Diocese. We are using the approach, materials and resources provided by their Parish Strategic Planning program.
A strategic plan is a tool to help our parish understand and determine where we are now, where we want to be, how we will get there and in what time period. It is a means for us, as a parish community, to create a shared vision for our future.
For answers to common questions, see our FAQ, below.
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January 26, 2017
Please Note: The Parish Strategic Planning workshop, scheduled for February 25, 2017, has been POSTPONED. Due to recent weather-related meeting cancellations, the Strategic Planning committee lost valuable time necessary to ensure necessary workshop preparations and a successful workshop outcome. The workshop will be rescheduled to a date after Pascha. For more information see page 7 of the February Newsletter.
October 28, 2016
As we write this article, we are in the final days of our Parish-wide survey. We hope that you were able to take advantage of this opportunity to provide important input into our strategic planning effort. We thought it would be a good time to review some basic information about our strategic plan now that we are one year (!) into this effort.
As we described at the 2015 Fall General Assembly, a strategic plan is a tool to help an organization determine where it is now, where it wants to be and how it will get there. It is a means for us, as a Parish community to get to our Shared Vision for the Future.
We also noted why the Parish Council felt it was important to embark on a strategic planning effort. In planning for the future, it is important to understand what parishioners are thinking about their parish community–i.e. the parish’s strengths, gifts, perceived weaknesses, challenges and opportunities. We want to understand our hopes and dreams for the future of St John the Baptist. Therefore, we need to assess where we are today in the context of our Church community, our local community and within the Metropolis, which will form the basis for our plan for our strategic plan.
At our “kick-off” meeting last April, we shared the six stages of the strategic planning model prepared by the Metropolis. Those stages are: Begin (Organize) » Assess » Envision » Plan » Implement » Manage. Our Strategic Planning Committee has spent this past year on the first two stages of the strategic planning model, primarily on assessment.
The assessment stage has, so far, consisted of administering the Orthodox Natural Church Development (ONCD) survey to nearly 40 members of the parish in May and the recent parish-wide“homegrown” survey. The Parish Strategic Planning Committee used the results of the ONCD survey to help develop the ‘homegrown’ survey.
The results of both surveys are being used to help design a Parish-wide workshop and will be shared at this workshop. We don’t have an exact date yet, but it will be after the first of the year. The results of the workshop will let us, as a Parish community, know “Where We Are Today.” This will be the last step in the assessment stage, which will form the basis for the next stages: Envision and Plan.
~ Diane C.
October 2, 2016
The parish-wide survey is now live! Everyone 18 and older in every household is invited to participate. This survey is not limited to Stewards of St. Johns. Expect the survey to take 45-60 minutes. Please follow the below link to access the survey which can be completed on a computer, tablet or smartphone. The password to access the survey will be sent out through our parish list-serve. If you run into any technical issues, please contact Niko P.
For those without computer access, there will be multiple stations setup at the Church (immediately following Liturgy) to take and complete the survey. Participants will also have the ability to stop and save progress with the survey. If something comes up in the middle of the survey, a user will provide his or her email address and a special link will be generated to pick up where they left off.
We’ve landed on a name for our plan: St. John Strategic Plan, “A Shared Vision for the Future”.
As we are in the Assessment Phase of our Strategic Plan, we are tasked with gathering feedback from as many parishioners as possible, to later be analyzed by the leadership team.
Also, to develop a strategic plan that fully represents our Orthodox Faith and Tradition, and accurately reflects the unique personality of our parish membership. This Phase will most likely consist of the ONCD Survey (explained below), a SWOT Analysis (mentioned below), and a possibly a parish-wide survey.
The Strategic Planning Leadership Team had a workshop on 3/19/16 to experience SWOT-Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis, which is a tool to gather input to use in our Strategic Plan development. At a later date (TBD) the Leadership Team shall host a similar workshop to get parish input.
The assessment subcommittee has contacted several parishes to ask about their experiences with surveys and other assessment tools used in the development of strategic plans. On April 2nd, Fr. James Retelas conducted training for our team on a survey instrument that the Metropolis has made available for parishes to use in their own strategic planning efforts.
The Orthodox version is called Orthodox Natural Church Development (ONCD) and has been used by 60 Orthodox parishes in North America, while the general version has been used by tens of thousands of parishes worldwide. The survey is designed to be taken by 30 parishioners, who meet certain criteria and details for conducting this survey are to follow, after Pascha.
The ONCD survey instrument prescribes criteria for selecting the survey participants. it requires they be active members of the parish’ in regular attendance, that reflect a cross-section of parish membership e.g. male and female, young and old, new and long-time members, etc. Based on this, the Strategic Planning Committee generated a list of diverse and representative cross-section of active parishioners to take the survey. No member of the Strategic Planning Committee or their spouses are includes and only one adult/household.
1. What is a Strategic Plan?
In general, a strategic plan is a tool to help our parish understand and determine where we are now, where we want to be, how we will get there and in what time period. It is a means for us, as a parish community, to create a shared vision for our future.
2. Why does our parish need a strategic plan now?
As you all know, our parish has grown significantly. While we each may have an idea of where we are as a parish, and as individuals in our parish, the parish council does not feel that we, as a parish-wide community, have a good, overall understanding of where we are or where we want to go.
3. What are some examples of what is included in a strategic plan?
Examples include re-setting priorities for parish ministries; and, identifying emerging needs and opportunities for new programs/ministries, facilities and funding.
4. How will the parish develop and finalize a Strategic Plan?
The Metropolis recently produced the Strategic Planning Guidebook, which provides a framework, tools and support for parishes to develop a strategic plan. The Parish Council sees this as a wonderful opportunity to use this tool for our parish to embark on the development of a strategic plan.
Based on this, the Parish Council identified 15 parishioners and asked them to participate on a strategic planning “Leadership Team.” While a couple have decided to not participate, the current Leadership Team is listed below. The Leadership Team will use the Strategic Planning Guidebook as a basis to develop a specific approach for the development of the St. John Strategic Plan. A key emphasis of the Guidebook is how to provide an opportunity for wide-participation of the parish in the development of the strategic plan. Because this process relies on consensus of the parish at each stage of the plan, we will take the time to achieve general agreement by parishioners, according to the teaching and holy Tradition of our Church. Therefore, we expect this effort will take many months to complete.
5. What is the timeline for completing the Strategic Plan?
While we don’t yet have an overall schedule, we can say that we are in the “assessment phase” and expect to be here well into the fall. The assessment phase is where we figure out “where we [the parish] are today.” As we noted in last fall’s General Assembly packet, we expect the Strategic Planning effort will take many months to complete. We will build the schedule for each phase as we proceed with each step.
6. What will be included in the assessment phase?
To start, we will be conducting a survey called Orthodox Natural Church Development (ONCD). On April 2, Father James Retelas trained our team on this survey instrument, which the Metropolis has made available for parishes to use in their own strategic planning efforts. The ONCD has been used by 60 Orthodox parishes in North America. The survey is designed to be taken by 30 parishioners, who meet certain criteria. We are in the process of figuring out the logistics for conducting this survey at St. John’s, but it will be after Pashca.
We also expect to conduct several workshops after this survey, most likely in the fall, with the details still to be worked out.
7. What is the role of the Leadership Team?
The role of the Leadership Team is to develop an inclusive process to enable the parish to reach consensus on a shared vision for our future.
8. Who are the Leadership Team members working on the Strategic Plan?
Kent T. (co-chair), Diane C. (co-chair), Deacon Innocent, Rich W., Michael H., John D., Brent B., Niko P., Patrice K., Ron R., Eleni G., Jimmy M., Michael B. and Fr. Theodore as our spiritual guide.
9. How does the Leadership Team conduct its meetings?
The Leadership Team has agreed on a set of values or principles to guide its meetings. These values are: Christ-like, collegial, participatory, good listening, respect for differing opinions, humility in word and deed, a sense of fun, patient while productive, mutual support, love for one another and the parish.
10. Are Leadership Team planning meetings open to parish members?
Yes, parish members may attend and observe, and at the discretion of the chairperson, provide input where the agenda and time allow.
11. What is decision making by consensus?
Decision-making by consensus means that we will work to develop, and agree to support, a decision in the best interest of the whole. The goal is “unity, not unanimity.” By articulating the emerging consensus, members and parishioners can be clear on the decision; and, as their views have been taken into account, are likely to support it.
12. Has the Leadership Team established any subcommittees to help with the Strategic Plan?
Two subcommittees have been formed: one focusing on assessment and the other on communication to the parish. Michael H. is chair of the Assessment Committee, along with members John D., Brent B., Niko P. This committee will focus on various ways to assess the views, beliefs, values, priorities, hopes, etc. of our parishioners. Stay tuned for more information on how you can participate in this assessment process. Patrice K. is the chair of the Communication Committee along with members Ron R., Eleni G., Deacon Innocent and Michael B. This committee will focus on keeping the entire parish informed on each and every step of the strategic planning process. Kent T., Diane C. and Father Theodore also participate with the sub-committees.
13. Where can I find more information about the Strategic Planning effort and what are the opportunities for involvement and input?
Please review the St. John the Baptist parish website postings and look for the strategic planning link. Also, watch for updates in the monthly parish newsletter, weekly bulletin updates, email and direct mail updates, Parish Council updates, and general assembly meetings. There may also be a bulletin board in the fellowship hall. Finally, please talk to Leadership Team members if you have questions or concerns.
14. Why should I get involved in the Strategic Planning process?
We value your input because it will significantly increase the likelihood of developing a better and more successful parish strategic plan that reflects our shared vision. We want your input!