Methods: Planning consistently happens in three areas, personal, ministry and organization and on three levels, strategic, tactical and operational

Evolutionary or Revolutionary Planning?

Things stay the same unless they change. Change is required for progress and planning is essential to progress – no planning usually means no positive change.

But, how do you determine what needs to be changed and how much change is required? I have always found it helpful to begin with a thorough review of existing ministries, programs, strategies, processes and systems. Some helpful criteria are to rate impact and effectiveness using a scale of 1-10 or High, Medium or Low. Ask questions such as:

  • What was the impact on the mission, vision and goals of the church, the ministry, the Kingdom?
  • What was the degree of effectiveness and efficiency in achieving desired results or outcomes?

Use your answers to determine whether or not the ministry, program, strategy, process or system needs evolutionary improvement or revolutionary improvement.

Evolutionary Improvement Planning

Evolutionary improvement planning is characterized by small improvements. The model or initiative is already effective but you know it could be improved. Statements that describe evolutionary improvement include:

  • It works but could use enhancing
  • Incremental change
  • Minor surgery
  • Small tweaks
  • Take it to the next level
  • Refining or fine tuning
  • Realignment

A principle in planning should be the pursuit of constant improvement, as things can always be improved. Most of your planning will involve evolutionary improvement, but occasionally ministries, programs, strategies, processes and systems need to be “blown up” and started over.

Revolutionary Improvement Planning

Revolutionary improvement planning is characterized by radical change. The model or initiative is broken or no longer effective and a new model is required. Statements that describe revolutionary improvement include.

  • Fundamental change
  • Philosophical change
  • Methodological change
  • Major surgery
  • Out of the box
  • Innovation
  • Total rethinking – start with a clean piece of paper

Caution: Revolutionary improvements take more time in planning and communication. A good rule of thumb is to pursue no more than one revolutionary improvement in a given planning cycle.

Running your annual planning process through these filters will ensure you resist the temptation to “carbon copy” initiatives from year to year and increase the likelihood of continued growth and positive progress.


Posted on August 16, 2016

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5