First, let’s begin this article by sharing with you about one of my favorite strategic analysis tools, S.W.O.T.; an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This analysis tool can be used by an individual, a couple, organizations and their leadership, pastors, staffs, churches; well you get the idea. It allows an individual or group to assess their internal strengths and weakness, as you want to capitalize on your strengths, realize your weaknesses turning them into strengths wherever possible or at least minimizing those personal or corporate weaknesses. This tool also allows you to assess your external opportunities for growth, development, etc. and to become aware of present or potential threats that might cause failure, loss, harm or danger to a person, organization and leadership, or pastor and church depending on how this analysis tool is being utilized.
From a church and staff perspective this is a very simply yet effective strategic analysis tool for conducting personal, ministerial or church evaluations of ministry leaders, programs, ministries, and mission effectiveness. Dennis Bickers currently serves as an area minister with the American Baptist Church of Indiana and Kentucky, and was a bivocational pastor for twenty years in a small, rural church in Indiana. In his excellent book, Intentional Ministry in a not-so-mega church: Becoming A Missional Community, in the Appendix, he devotes pages 147-151 to explaining the S.W.O.T. Analysis tool. It is unusual for a Christian author with a pastoral background to recommend the use of this analysis tool. I would encourage pastors whether bivocational or fully funded to purchase and read Bickers book for many reasons, but in particular it might help persuade you or your church to utilize this analysis tool if you haven’t done so in the past.
When you examine the Seven Churches in Revelation 2:1-3:22, you will discover through the Apostle John’s writings that God in essence conducted His own S.W.O.T. Analysis of these seven churches and recorded the results for our consideration. A careful analysis or exegesis of this passage reveals God provided each church with a detailed analysis of their individual strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats relative to the consequences if they did heed His word of warning. One of the key phrases in this passage is “He who has an ear, let him hear,” so perhaps our takeaway here among other things is that we should both see and “hear” from this example of how the S.W.O.T. Analysis tool could prove a valuable tool in our church and personal toolbox.
Finally, as a caveat to this particular article, making use of the S.W.O.T Analysis tool at an in-depth level positions an individual, couple, organization, staff or leadership, church to make use of the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) Analysis Tool setting appropriate goals for ourselves and/or church or organization.
Dennis Bickers, Intentional Ministry in a not-so-mega church: Becoming A Missional Community (2009, Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press), pp. 147-151.