Mission Action Planning

Introducing the MAP process cycle

from How to do Mission Action Planning: A vision-centred approach
by Mike Chew and Mark Ireland (SPCK 2009, pp8-10)

For more information, please visit the Diocesan website, Living God’s Love.

Phase 1: Review your situation

The first task is to see the church’s current situation as God would see it: listing those things that are good and working well, and those things which are not so good.  To do this it is useful to devise ways to listen in three directions:

1.      listening up – to God,

2.      listening in – to church members, and

3.      listening out – to the local communities and
networks that the church serves.

and from this a summary of strengths, weaknesses and opportunities can be written.

To listen in and out at St Michael’s, we are using a form of Appreciative Enquiry (AE) and an audit in the various groups and committees of the church’s activities.  The former is a questionnaire that will be given to members of the church and to key figures in the local community.  The audit attempts to categorise our activities in terms of Living God’s Love and its three elements, ‘Going Deeper into God’, ‘Transforming Communities’ and ‘Making New Disciples’.

The survey’s results.

The audit’s results.

The second task is to reflect on what is the main purpose of the church:

  • Why does this church exist?
  • What particular purposes does it serve?
  • How does it relate to the community?
  • What does it believe in?

and this gives us an opportunity to review our Mission Statement together.

This second task is beginning on Saturday 29th October 2011 when the PCC, Churchwardens and Clergy will gather for an ‘At Home’ day (Committee members are also invited).  A copy of the Agenda can be downloaded.

Several other activities might be useful in this review process, including:

Phase 2: Choose future priorities

While Phase 1 is concerned with the present time, Phase 2 is all about the future.  People may have many ideas about what the church could/should be doing, but resources are finite and choices have to be made.  The first step is to describe a vision of what the church could become in five years.  You want this to be God’s vision for your church, so prayer is essential.  You also want this to be an attainable vision – not an impossible dream.  An example Vision statement might read: ‘St Anne’s will become a church community where all members are growing in faith and suing their special gifts to spread gifts to spread Jesus’ saving love.’

A good Vision statement, shared and taken on board by your people, can inspire everyone to work together towards their future.

The second step in this phase is to work out the priorities to achieve the vision.  This beast done in two stages – first consider the long-term (five year) priorities, and then break this down into the priorities for the next year.  In this way, you will be able to review progress every year, and to identify the next priorities.  It may be tempting to take on too much, so be cautious.  The diocese have asked us to restrict the number of discrete strategic priorities to three, although more can be suggested.  This is also a good time to consider what activities could be stopped or trimmed – especially if these are not central to the church vision.  Finally, write a SMART goal statement for each of the priorities.

This is where we hope to be at the end of the PCC ‘At Home’ day, before taking our ideas back to the church as a whole and asking for their further input and suggestions.


Phase 3: Make plans

During the planning phase, each priority can be taken in turn and fleshed out into the main actions that are necessary to reach the goal.

It helps to identify the person responsible for the action, and the timescale.  These are the ‘top-level’ actions, suitable for including in the MAP summary report; each one of these could be broken down into more detail by the owner of the action at a later date.

The MAP summary report can now be written.  It should contain the main details of each of the work done in the three MAP process phases, but it should also be fairly brief and easy to read – two sides of A4 is ideal.  The report should be widely communicated, with copies made available for all church members and key members of the local community.


Phase 4: Act on the plans

This is where the practical work gets done.  During the Act phase, it is vital that there are regular reviews of progress – perhaps at church council meetings – to ensure that the people involved are supported and encouraged in their work.  It may be found necessary to revisit the plans in the light of work done so far.  For completed actions, it is useful to review whether the desired outcomes have come to pass, and plan any follow-on work.  Finally, give thanks and celebrate!