Strategic Plan FAQ
‘Listen!” Jesus said. “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. . . Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’ And Jesus said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
In the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (EDOW), we are undertaking the work of becoming good soil.
We know that the most transformative work requires intentional planning and strategic effort. To that end, we are embarking on a diocesan-wide strategic planning process that we hope will allow us to take stock together of where we are now -- our strengths and our challenges, where we see fruitfulness in our ministries and where we struggle -- and then commit to a mutually discerned vision of God’s preferred future for our diocese.
Our planning will be most effective if it includes the views of the full range of our community and takes into account the distinctive contexts of each geographic region, building upon work our leadership has already begun to cultivate in collaboration among our constituencies.
The Diocese of Washington has hired a consulting company The Unstuck Group to lead us through the strategic planning process. The Unstuck Group has worked with hundreds of churches of all shapes and sizes to assist those communities to understand their current level of “health” and to plan for their futures. We hope that the Unstuck Group will help us also to set our vision, mission, and goals while undertaking the work of becoming good soil.
Q: What do we hope the planning process will achieve?
A: We hope the planning process will allow us to:
prayerfully consider together God’s will and preferred future for us as the Episcopal Diocese of Washington;
take stock of our strengths and challenges;
strengthen relationships among the people and parishes of the diocese, and where it would lead to greater fruitfulness, identify specific ways we might collaborate in ministry;
establish mutually-discerned goals in each region of the diocese and determine how best to invest our collective energies and resources; and
align diocesan programming and staffing to most effectively support our goals.
As a result of our work now, we pray that in three-to-five years, we will see greater fruitfulness in spiritual growth, vibrant congregational life, more confident evangelism and deeper engagement in our communities, in faithfulness to Jesus and his mission of love.
Q: What is prompting EDOW to do this planning work now?
A: Bishop Mariann called for the strategic planning process when she returned from sabbatical so that we might collectively address the spiritual and material issues before us as a diocese. While there have been intentional and strategic efforts in the diocese during her episcopate to date, this would be the first time under her leadership for the diocese to undertake a comprehensive planning process. She hopes it will become normative for our work together going forward.
Just as it is good practice to tend soil, planning for the future is good stewardship of the mission God has given us as a diocese. Given the challenges our congregations face, the rapidly changing contexts in which they serve, and the stubborn trends of institutional decline that many congregations are experiencing, the work of strategic planning is all the more vital now.
Q: Who is The Unstuck Group? What is their role in this process?
A: The Unstuck Group is a consulting group that has worked with hundreds of churches of all shapes and sizes to assist those communities to understand their current level of “health” and to plan for their futures. We were drawn to The Unstuck Group because of the reality-based, practical nature of their approach, and the opportunities their methodology offers to congregations as we go through this process together. The Unstuck team will offer their deep experience -- and a customized version of their proven approach to planning -- to support and structure our efforts. More information about The Unstuck Group can be found here.
Q: How will the planning process work?
A: We have structured a process that will be led by clergy and lay representatives from each region and provide for broad input from parishioners across the diocese. Leadership teams have been established for each region of the diocese and those teams, together with EDOW staff and colleagues from The Unstuck Group, will host a Discovery Session -- a 2-3 hour facilitated conversation -- in each of the 8 regions of the diocese between mid-March and May. The Discovery Sessions will allow us to identify challenges, opportunities, and dreams for the future for the diocese. A list of the members of the leadership teams and the schedule for the Discovery Sessions can be found on the EDOW Planning website.
After the Discovery Sessions are completed by the end of May, two leaders from each region will join diocesan staff for a two-day retreat in June to pray and reflect on all that we’ve learned in the discovery process. Based on this input and reflection, the group will begin the process of articulating our mission as a diocese, a collective vision of God’s preferred future for us, and specific goals for the next three-to-five years. We will then go back to each of the regions to solicit feedback on the diocesan vision and how those goals might be best accomplished in each region.
We hope to complete this phase of our work and seek Diocesan Council’s endorsement and approval of the strategic plan in the fall of 2019. We would then begin structuring and equipping ourselves for the work of implementation in 2020.
Q: How were the regional leadership teams selected?
A: The bishop and diocesan staff worked to identify lay and clergy leaders that represent the diversity of each region. If you are interested in serving on a regional leadership team, please contact email@example.com.
Q: And how can I participate?
We welcome your participation! Plan to attend the Discovery Session for your parish’s region. If you wish to do so, please register [HERE].
In addition, we invite all congregational leaders -- clergy, wardens, and vestries -- to take an online assessment to determine, in broad strokes, where your congregations fall on the life cycle of parish health. Each parish has also been given free access to an online course sponsored by the Unstuck Group. Contact Mildred Reyes, Missioner for Formation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How can we be praying for this process?
A: Please pray for all in the Diocese of Washington, and for those most directly involved in this process, that we might trust in God’s guidance, carefully listen to one another, and discern together the path ahead. Pray that we might experience this process as both clarifying and energizing and that by God’s grace we might accomplish the goals we identify as a result of this work.