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Practical Leadership

How to Start, Develop, and Evaluate Programs

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Basic Guide and Checklist to Start and Develop a Program. After following the process of determining needs and developing a purpose, programs need to be implemented to meet those needs. Your main goal is to love and serve the Lord with all of your heart, mind and strength…Mark 12:30, and to influence others to do so. At the same time, you need to be effective stewards of resources, including the gifts and abilities as well as the finances and facilities of the church.
Basic Guide and Checklist to Start and Develop a Program.


After following the process of determining needs and developing a purpose, programs need to be implemented to meet those needs. Check your denominational resources. Most have excellent materials to guide you Church Leadership channel.

How to Start and Develop a Program

Your main goal is to love and serve the Lord with all of your heart, mind and strength…Mark 12:30, and to influence others to do so. At the same time, you need to be effective stewards of resources, including the gifts and abilities as well as the finances and facilities of the church. (see, How to Lead and Manage the Church)

1. Name the program, being creative, yet sensitive to the need.

2. What is the principle target, who is it for, the reason?

3. What is the purpose of the program, who is it for, why is it needed?

4. List what the goals are to be.

5. How does the purpose and goal of this program lead the church deeper in the heart of God to worship and glorify Him?

6. Come up with a mission statement and reason for the ministry. Search the Scriptures prayerfully. This will be your main guide, and the "program parameters" for your ministry.

7. List the benefits, liabilities, and possible problems.

8. Out of the liabilities and possible problems, come up with possible objections people may have and be able to answer those objections. Use these objections to troubleshoot what you are doing. If you cannot, then maybe your program is not needed, or, it is not the right time.

9. Remove obstacles and objections. Be creative. Money does not solve all of the problems!

10. Make sure you have adequate insurance, and follow their guidelines and policies. Most insurance companies have good resources for you to use.

11. Come up with an action plan, and put it all down on paper, step by step.

12. Decide who will lead and be responsible for it.

13. Have leaders pick or assign people to assist them. They are to train and mentor them so as the program grows, the assistants become the leaders, they recruit new assistants, and so forth.

14. Establish a system for supervision of the program and its ongoing support from staff and leadership. Do not let it start and then forget about it!

15. Decide what skills and abilities will be needed to run it.

16. How many volunteers will you need?

17. What training will be needed?

18. Have a plan to train them!

19. What are the realistic financial needs versus your resources?

20. Who will supervise?

21. Provide training.

22. Supply resources.

23. Do not feel you have to reinvent the wheel. Chances are, someone else is already doing it, so find them and get to know them!

· Contact other churches in your area, even outside of your denomination and area if necessary, who are doing similar programs.

· Pick their brains for ideas.

· Ask what you need to do.

· Ask what you should avoid.

· Ask for any materials or samples they can loan you.

· Ask what and how they would go about it if they had it to do again.

· Ask what their successes and failures were.

· Ask to come and visit them and see for yourself.

24. Check your denomination for materials. If they do not have any, seek the Catholic, Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches. They have tons of great materials for starting programs. Just watch out for the theology. If in doubt, just get ideas from it. Organizations such as Youth Specialties Group Ministries, David C. Cook, Gospel Light, and many others have good books and materials for all age groups.

25. Outline a plan to meet the needs!

26. Write the benefits to the church and community.

27. Decide what the financial requirements will be, and make out a budget.

28. Have an accounting plan, with checks and balances. Have another person outside the program do occasional cash flow analysis for accountability.

29. Decide how the finances can be raised, or other possible sources of funds available.

30. Make sure you control your expenses and cash flow analysis. This is God's money! Keep receipts, and require two people to approve an expense, to sign a check, and so forth.

31. Develop a communication and advertising strategy to obtain congregational support and to recruit potential volunteers.

32. Make decisions and solve problems.

33. Decide how it will be evaluated.

34. Decide when you will start.

35. Decide on the facility, day and time of meeting, etc.

36. Decide how long the program will be needed.

37. What are your expectations? Keep in mind God's expectations are not the same as ours! We must be wise stewards of our Lord's people and resources!

38. If in doubt, test it. Evaluate it to show the congregation it how it can work or to discover that you did not need it.

39. Implement and manage the program!

40. When it starts, give people time to process change.

41. Evaluate it regularly for fine-tuning and course corrections.

42. Monitor the attendance and offerings each time.

43. Do not forget to celebrate your progress and encourage your people!

44. I trust you have spent at least one-third of your energies and time in prayer!

Once the program is running, plan for a year. Use your annual church calendar for your planning. It is very important to see the big picture. The leadership of the church needs to set aside a time to develop a plan several months before the budget is approved. This gives the leadership team enough time to involve people in the goal-setting and budgeting process so that they gain congregational ownership of the church's ministry plan.

Things To Consider: Effective Planning Before Major Decision Making

1.Visualize where you need to be. Pray and search the Scriptures for your answers.

2.Where are you in your journey of faith and prayer?

3.Evaluate your present spiritual condition!

4.Determine appropriate faith goals for yourself and keep one another accountable.

5.Clarify needs, and listen to as many people as you can.

6.Continue to develop and resource your leaders.

7.Encouragement and celebrating progress is very important!

8.Be willing to make mid-course corrections.

9.Do not be afraid to eliminate ineffective ministries, or revamp them.

10. Beware of pride and political agendas!

11. Once a year, review and update your program's mission statement and reason for ministry.

12. As far as the "sacred cows" go, (programs that people cling to so much they are unwilling to review or improve them) remember we are to honor the past and embrace the future! "Sacred cows" are best tipped by encouraging their founders and leaders that they can be better in a direction they may have not considered. Allow them to brainstorm and help you do the tipping. Share the vision; let them visit other programs. Never tip without help, for "cows" may come down and crush you!

Evaluating the Program

1.Does it have a purpose, a reason for being?

2.What are the needs?

3.Is it meeting those reasons and needs?

4.Does it inspire people in the church to seek the deeper heart of God in worship and to glorify Him?

5.Do not be afraid to eliminate ministries that are not needed, or ones where there is too much focus by others, and make room for what is really needed!

6.Use the same questions as above in, "Basic Guide and Checklist To Start And Develop A Program!" Evaluate it accordingly, seeking what is good and working well, and what needs improvement.

7.Make sure there are goals, and a purpose statement.

8.Did the program achieve those goals? Why or why not?

9.If no goals exist, create some and write them out.

10. What needs to be done to implement those goals?

11. Is this program necessary; should it continue?

12. Should it be modified? If so, how, and why?

13. How effective have the personnel been?

14. How can the leadership of the church better support them?

15. How can they be honored for their service?

16. How can they be encouraged and trained?

17. Do more leaders need to be recruited?

18. If so, develop a plan. Look at the church directory, go over names, and ask them to pick out the ones they feel can do the job. Then, go to those people personally, as well as advertise in the church bulletins and publications.

19. Where can they be trained? Consider denominational training, Para church ministries, books, resources, and other churches.

20. How is the budget? What are the expenses? Can they be increased, decreased, or alternatives be found? Is accurate accounting of the finances being done? Can that be improved, increased, decreased if there is a surplus? If other needs exist but are not being addressed, can the funds be transferred or visa versa?

21. How do the people in the church/ community know about and view the program?

22. What needs to be done to get the word out more?

23. What are the program needs and resources that can improve things? Keep in mind all programs require a plan, time, energy, and money, people to lead, and space in which to do it. Do not just throw money at something. Have a plan and a purpose first!

24. How are the facilities? Remember, people need to be comfortable! If it is too hot or too cold, people will not come. When they do come, they will not learn. Is adequate parking available? Do the people and participants feel at home? Ask a few of the participants for feedback or send out a survey.

25. Map out the successes and failures during the past year. If no evaluation has been done before, go back five years, regardless of leadership changes.

26. Do not put people down, rather use this time to lift up and encourage! Make it a comfortable time. Be open, listen, support the program, and encourage the people being evaluated to do the same. Condescending attitudes of the leadership will cause more destruction that not having a program at all!

27. Brainstorm ideas for changes. Be honest and do not feel you have to make changes if nothing is wrong. If it works, do not fix it! Investigate small things that can be done to make improvements. If it is in shambles, at worst, you may have to start over. At best, it might just need some encouragement! It is easier to sew a patch on than buy a new coat!

28. List the steps toward achieving the goals you came up with.

How much time was spent in prayer?

© 1986, 1988, 1998, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, 

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