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As I write this, I?m in the middle of a busy week. My communications team is meeting one-on-one with each of the major ministry areas at our church, which translates to three days packed with meetings. It?s draining, but we run this gauntlet twice a year because it?s the best way we?ve found to dig into where our ministries are going, not just what they?re doing.

This time around we?re asking our ministry leaders three questions about their vision for the next six months. And while we?re asking these questions of our ministries to men, women, children, single parents, small groups, etc., they can also help as you plan a Sunday, a series of Sundays, or a whole season of Sundays coming up this summer or fall. A conversation around these three questions gives my team what we need to understand, design, execute, and evaluate a communication plan, and I?m betting they?d fit into your worship planning process as well:

1. Overall, what story ? what life change or transformation ??do we hope to see? You could want people to join a small group, find a place to serve, confess a sin or struggle ??whatever it is, identify it and make sure everyone is on the same page.

2. What are the two or three most important elements in our pursuit of that story? There may be 10 or 15 items on your order of service for a particular Sunday, and they?re all valuable or else you wouldn?t do them, but go ahead and identify the two or three most important. Maybe it?s a song, a video, and the preacher?s call to action. Maybe it?s a specific sermon illustration and Communion. Identify these particularly crucial elements and give them the extra attention and resources they deserve.

3. Looking back a little bit, what have been your recent highlights? Are there any missed opportunities or growth areas we can address in the near future? There?s a simpler way to say all that: What?s working and where can we get better? I don?t know about you, but we?re trying to be intentional about looking back because our default mode is looking ahead. There?s always another Sunday, another series, and another season, but the work ahead of us should be shaped by the work (good and bad, effective and middling) behind us.

So there you have it: What story are we telling? What are the most important elements in telling that story? What has been on target or falling short lately?

There are more questions to ask, of course, depending on your context. These are just a jumping off point that help us see where we?re coming from and where we?re going. If we put in this work on the front end, we (and our people) always benefit from it. Always. Not only are we clear and cohesive, but we also have something with which we can evaluate our efforts after the fact.

We?re asking these questions over and over again this week, and I hope they make their way into your conversation too.

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