United Methodist Church Marketing Plan Tool
Phase 1 of the Church Marketing Plan Tool


achieving calculated initiatives



a look in the mirror


Now that you’ve considered and catalogued the strengths, challenges and opportunities facing your church and defined your audience, let’s take the next step.

Your strategy defines what you want to accomplish within a designated period of time—and your Vision Statement is of little use without it. As you move forward, consider three elements:

  • With your SCO assessment in mind, look to what your church is already doing well. This provides confidence and a sense of what strategies and steps have worked in the past. Address your challenges and seek to unearth areas for improvement or identify under-resourced programs. This could even be the time to think about simplifying the number of ministries or projects offered by your church as a way of bringing greater focus to your available resources.
  • The intersection of strengths and challenges is opportunity. Your church may wish to study expanding one of its ministries or developing a new approach. In this moment, watch for ideas that generate excitement with the Marketing Team and discuss if church members may be enlisted to provide help.
  • The following strategy statement is based on one of the opportunities noted in the earlier SCO assessment.

    Example of a strategy statement:
    Generic UMC will reach young adults and children by expanding its tutoring program as a service ministry. Because of our proximity to an elementary school, we wish to expand our successful tutoring program to include young adults.


Note how the strategy statement recognizes strengths (current tutoring program and location), a challenge (engaging young adults) and an opportunity (young adults wish to help). Your church’s strategy will read differently and address your own unique needs. There is no established template for a strategy as long as it provides the direction your church needs.

Goals Give You a Plan, Tactics Give You the Steps

So after you craft a strategy, what’s next? Your church knows what it wants to accomplish, and now you need to imagine what’s necessary to achieve your strategy.

Those thoughts will give rise to your goals. To begin with, a goal is a statement describing what your church will achieve after your marketing plan has been established. A goal is also an extension of your strategy and an outcome of your church’s Core Values and Vision. Your goal may be a short, simple statement or several sentences in length. The choice is yours, and your church may have more than one goal in its marketing plan.

And yet your church’s goals are not necessarily set in stone. In fact, it’s better to picture rubber cement — a strong material that can still be re-sculpted as needed. This allows your church to alter its approaches when conditions warrant changes. Thus, goals may be adaptable and offer opportunities for spiritual growth and leadership development.

So let’s discuss the nature and components of what is called a S.M.A.R.T. goal…


Specific – A specific goal is more likely to be accomplished than a general goal. To be specific, a goal should state an end result, who is involved, where (if applicable), when the goal will be achieved, and how it works toward your church’s Vision.

Measurable – This is where numbers come into play as you quantify success through questions such as, “How much?”, “How many?” and “How will I know when it is accomplished?”

Attainable – Your church should set its goals high enough to challenge staff and members, but not so high as to be unreasonable. Set goals that inspire you — and allow for celebrations along the way.

Realistic – Craft your goals within the reality of your current context and resources. Consider the time, talents, financial resources and energies of the people who will take part.

Timely – A goal should adhere to a specified timeframe. Without a timeframe, there is no urgency and no one is held accountable. Whether your goal is tied to an annual event or stands on its own, an agreed-to date for its conclusion should compel your staff and volunteers to get moving.

For Example...

See the following example derived from the previous strategy statement:

Goal – Within four months, our church will involve at least five young adults in our tutoring program, which will begin one month after the start of the school year. Our church will use promotional opportunities during the summer to spread the word throughout the community.

In just two sentences, this goal covers a lot of ground (how many young adults should participate, a timeframe and deadline, an attainable benchmark). So this goal does meet multiple elements of a S.M.A.R.T. goal. From here, the following actions may help to fulfill this goal:

  • Build a list of communications tactics to be carried out during the summer with tasks assigned to staff or volunteers in the church.
  • Request the senior pastor’s help in communicating with the school’s principal and counselors and in promoting this ministry during Sunday and Wednesday services.
  • Schedule “thank you” communications or an event in honor of volunteers in the program.
  • Develop a Plan B approach should there be difficulty in attracting the tutors needed. The church should consider…
    • Are there civic groups that would be willing to supply volunteers?
    • Would peer-to-peer tutoring be acceptable?

This is by no means a complete list of steps needed. Notice, though, how the goal draws on strengths, challenges and opportunities, and the action steps support the goal.

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