How to Coach your Church Staff Team Toward Success

Whether you have 1, 5 or 50 staff members, being proactive in leading your staff is essential. In a previous post, I unpacked 7 reasons that every person on your staff team should write an annual plan. Following up, I explained How to walk through this annual planning process. If you have read these posts and are ready as a leader to take your church staff to a new level, read on. In today’s post, I will coach you through how to take your church staff through this annual planning exercise.

Follow these 8 steps to coach your Church staff team toward success:

Your responsibilities are in red.  The staff member’s responsibilities are in blue.

The Perfect Chruch Staff Team

Step 1: Gather your staff and communicate that each person will be writing an annual plan for his/her ministry area.

Schedule a kick-off meeting. This staff meeting should not take more than an hour. Explain why annual planning is valuable. In this meeting, you also will want to lay out the timetable for the annual planning process. A suggested timetable is provided at the end of this post. In this kick-off meeting, set a due date that the staff will be required to turn in their annual plan.  I recommend a date of one month from your kick-off meeting in order to give every person opportunity to take a full day away and work through the plan.

Step 2: Each staff member takes an entire day and puts together an annual plan.

The annual planning process is not ideally carried out in small chunks of time but in a full day away planning retreat. Here are the instructions for completing the plan:

Step 3: Review each plan and prepare feedback.

Spend 30-60 minutes reviewing the plan of each person that you oversee. Your goal is to prepare for a meeting and discussion with the staff person.

The kinds of things that you are looking for:

  • Is this person’s ministry philosophy consistent with the overall philosophy of the church?
  • In their annual planning, has this person accurately done the work of defining why this ministry exists?
  • In planning for next year, are you agreeable to what the person has planned?
  • Are the goals 80 percent achievable?
  • If this person lives out this plan over the next year, will they have carried out their responsibilities excellently?
  • Have they identified the right problems with the ministry?
  • Does the plan adequately plan to address the problems raised?
  • Has the progress been detailed month by month?

One on One meeting

Step 4: Meet with each of your direct reports and give them feedback on their plans.

This is a dialogue where you are attempting to get on the same page. This meeting should not take more than an hour.  Have a dialogue about what is good and what needs work. Make sure to both listen and give feedback.

Step 5: Each staff member edits and writes the final draft of their plan based on your meeting with them.

After the meeting send them back to rework draft two of the plan per your discussion.

Step 6: Each staff member turns in his/her final plan to you.

Step 7: Each staff member explains his/her annual plan to the team.

Schedule a half day or all day staff meeting or retreat.  Have each person bring enough copies of his/her annual plan to give one to each person on the team.  Allow 15-30 minutes per person to walk through his annual plan and explain to the rest of the team where he will be taking the ministry over the next year.

Step 8: Connect monthly as a staff for an update.

The sweet spot of this whole process is how progress is reported throughout the year. Once a month at your staff meeting, make sure that you build in an extra hour for each person to give a progress report to the rest of the team. This monthly meeting will produce accountability for each person, facilitate communication between team members, and gets everyone on the same page. In this monthly meeting, the team is essentially managing each other.  Success will be celebrated by all. Laziness will be exposed to all. Help can be provided by all.

Appendix: Suggested Annual Planning Time Frame

(Adjust dates for your start time.)

  • October 1: Initial staff meeting to explain the annual planning process
  • November 1: Each staff person turns in his/her written plan: (Draft One)
  • November 1-7: You review the plans.
  • November 8-15: Individual staff meetings to communicate your feedback on their annual plan.
  • November 15-30: Staff edits plan in light of feedback and prepares a final draft.
  • December 15 Staff day away for each member to communicate the annual plan to the rest of the team.
  • January 1: Plan kicks into action.
  • Monthly staff meetings where each person gives an update on progress, problems, etc.


  1. Should admin staff do this exercise? I have found that this exercise is useful primarily for those in leadership roles rather than support roles.
  2. What if I oversee more than one area (i.e. small groups, worship ministries) I recommend that if you see two rather large ministry areas that you write a plan for each area. If you are a generalist who oversees multiple areas of ministry, I recommend writing a plan that encompasses your various ministry areas.

Still have questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments section.

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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.