Why each Person on your Staff should Create an Annual Plan

Annual Staff Planning

Leading and managing a staff is one of the most challenging parts of being a church leader. Whether you have 1, 5 or 50 staff members, being proactive in leading your staff is essential. Many pastors are confident with Scripture, Theology, and Preaching but feel much less equipped at managing paid staff. Few of us were trained in this area. Many of us feel a constant tension between being the authority over staff and the being pastor/leader developer/friend of staff members.

One of the most effective ways to lead your staff is to coach each person through creating and implementing an annual plan for their areas of oversight.  Before you spend more money hiring staff, consider instead maximizing your current staff by coaching each person through an annual planning process.

Here are 7 reasons that an annual plan is invaluable for each person on a church staff:


7 reasons to have your church staff do an annual plan

1. An Annual Plan brings Clarity.

When a person creates a plan for the next year of his ministry, he carefully explores the purpose of his ministry, what is working, what is not working, and what needs to be worked on.  The process of thinking through where things are and where they are headed brings clarity to the whole ministry.

2. An Annual Plan proves Productivity. (Or exposes lack of productivity)

Do you ever wonder if a person on your staff is effective in their role? Do you wonder if staffing dollars are being spent wisely?  Do you wonder if a staff member is actually doing her job?  These questions are all answered in annual planning process. Bonus: A person with a well thought out annual plan will likely double his effectiveness and productivity.

3. An Annual Plan synchronizes expectations.

It is fascinating how differently a church staff person sees his job in relationship to how you see his job. Churches tolerate ambiguity in job description far beyond what would ever be allowed in the business world. The annual planning process brings to the surface differences in the job expectation and philosophy between the leader and the staff person.

4.  An Annual Plan facilitates team unity.

Picture a church staff team where each person has a clear role, clear measurable objectives, a monthly check-in where the rest of the team sees progress and obstacles.  Silos and Turf Wars are non-existent.   The team functions together and communicates like a well-oiled machine.  This is what happens when each member of a team creates, implements, and communicates an annual plan.

5.  An Annual Plan allows you as a pastor to be Good-Cop.

Are you tired of being the heavy?  Sick of being the disciplinarian of staff?  Torn between being boss and being leader developer/friend/pastor. An annual planning process will allow you as the pastor to leave behind the day-to-day management role and allow you to focus instead on to caring for, coaching, and investing in your staff.

6.  An Annual Plan brings multiple layers of accountability.

How is staff held accountable in your context? Many of us are willing to fail in front of one person but failing in front of a whole group of people is a whole different deal. When each member of a church staff creates an annual plan, communicates it to the whole team, and gives a monthly update, the whole process produces success or failure in front of the whole team. This does wonders for productivity and removes you as the heavy. (Especially for extroverts)

7.  An Annual Plan takes the ambiguity out of what should I do with my time today.

Wondering what to focus your time on today, this week, this month?  Struggling with what your top priorities are? Work your annual plan.  You have spent time creating it.  Now live it out for the next year.

Interested? But how do I create an annual plan?

Read my follow up post and I’ll coach you through the whole process.

Feel free to comment with any questions you would like me to answer or input that you have!

Interested in being coached regularly through my posts? Enter your email above (and to the right) and I will make sure that I send you each post!




Posted by Brian Howard

My focus is to help YOU move forward one step at a time. I write about church excellence, personal productivity, and family leadership. I coach leaders, start churches, and help organizations break growth barriers. My goal is to draw on this experience to help YOU move forward in life, leadership, and productivity.

  1. Brian, for sure, this is an area that, in my experience working in church and parachurch organizations, I have seen weakness. I think many pastors just aren’t equipped with monitoring and employee development skills because they’ve perhaps never worked in private industry or in the public arena, and also because seminaries may not spend alot of time on this focus area. For those pastors who’ve had this experience, they are definitely at an advantage in terms of leading, coaching, and developing their staff. One of the obvious advantages of implementing the annual “work plan” is to develop and track targeted goals, state objective roles and tasks required, make effort to further develop existing skills and/or improve upon weakness. Some “old school” folks may have the opinion that they should just leave all of this effort to the work of the Holy Spirit, and they have half of that correct. The annual plan should absolutely include the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of both the supervising pastor and the servant staff. Actually, that’s the beauty of implementing an annual “work plan” within the confines of a church or parachurch organization – is to have the freedom to be inclusive of spiritual things during staff development. Rarely do people grow in the absence of challenge.


  2. Brian,

    I am a church planter in Peru, South America. I was just working on a document for our ministry teams to encourage each team to develop an annual plan. This is my first stab at providing direction for each leader and ministry team, so I am inventing as a go. I’m asking each team to develop their annual goals as well as budgetary needs and a calendar of events. I’m sure I’m lacking many categories.

    You’re articles are coming at just the right time! I am looking forward to your Monday installment.


    1. Allen,

      Greetings and thanks for commenting! I am glad that you found this post helpful. I will follow up Monday. You may also want to check out this previous post that might also be relevant to you. Keep us posted on how it goes and feel free to roll out questions along the way.


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