Strategic planning for effective church ministry: a study of local churches of the Nazarene in Zimbabwe
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Churches from both the developed and the developing worlds are increasingly embracing the practice of strategic planning hoping to derive superior ministry effectiveness. This study was prompted by the fact that local churches of the Nazarene in Zimbabwe (LCNZ) face various challenges emanating from ineffective strategic planning. The purpose of this study was to assess strategic planning among LCNZ. Moreover, the study sought to identify the biblical basis for strategic planning among LCNZ; to examine the role of various stakeholders in the development of strategic plans among LCNZ, and to identify the challenges and suggest possible solutions to the challenges faced by LCNZ in strategic planning. The study was grounded on the Systems Approach to Christian Management Theory by Michael J. Anthony and James Estep Jr. The study employed a descriptive survey research design. The target population was the 59 organised LCNZ, with a total membership of 12 781 full members. The sample for this study was selected through probability and nonprobability sampling techniques, particularly a combination of multistage, stratified random sampling and purposive sampling. A sample size of 378 respondents comprising pastors, church secretaries, and lay members was drawn from a sample of 30 local churches of the target population using the Taro Yamane formula. Data collection was through online interviews for pastors and an online questionnaire for lay members and church secretaries. A pilot study involving three LCNZ was conducted. The Cronbach alpha (α) reliability test was used to ascertain the internal reliability, while expert opinion ascertained the content and construct validity of data collection instruments. Quantitative data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), version 26 and presented with the use of frequencies, percentages, and inferential statistics, while qualitative data was analysed thematically and presented as narratives. The study established that all respondents believe that strategic planning is biblical. Majority of LCNZ conducted environmental scanning and analysis though there is a lack of formal continuous environmental scanning by a significant number of churches. The study established that a majority of LCNZ have written down short-term one to two years plans. Moreover, the study indicated that most of these strategies are very poorly implemented. The study also revealed that most churches are lacking in the area of strategy control and monitoring. The study further established that the pastors and the church board are the most involved in all aspects of strategic planning, while church members are the least involved. The study concluded that LCNZ need to improve on their strategic planning practices. Therefore, the study recommends that theologians need to invest more research on the link between biblical theology and management sciences. In particular, there is a need for more in-depth research on the biblical basis for strategic planning in the Church. Pastors also need to educate their members on the importance of strategic planning in the church. The researcher also recommends that pastors, their church boards and lay members need to be trained in strategic management to improve on their strategic planning efforts. The study noted that there is a need for further, more in-depth research on the biblical and theological basis for strategic planning in the Church. More studies also need to be conducted in the context of churches of the Nazarene in Zimbabwe since strategic planning, as a discipline is still a budding concept in this context. It is important to establish by research how this discipline can be incorporated and integrated effectively into the Church terms of reference.
Africa Nazarene University