PIE for Parish Leaders & Staff

Posted by Jerry Roth on

If your first thought was Pecan Pie then we are kindred souls! Unfortunately, the PIE in today’s title refers to a simple but powerful model for creating and sustaining effective church ministry. The PIE Model has three key components:

 Pie Chart

In my research & consulting experience, I have found that models must have the following characteristics if they are going to be effective in supporting church ministry:

  • simple – easy to understand
  • require minimal training to utilize
  • applicable to church ministry environment
  • sustainable over many cycles of church ministry
  • consistently achieve expected ministry outcomes
  • scalable to short term, annual and long-term (strategic) applications


The PIE Model reflects each of these important characteristics. Let’s take a quick look at the three components:


Planning efforts are a systemic accountability for all church leaders and staff. Planning horizons can address multiple time frames including weekly ministry programs, annual ministry planning & budgeting, and long-term (multiple year) strategic planning. The planning process should include representation from all key stakeholder groups (those affected by the planning). Planning strategies should start with identification of expected ministry outcomes, development of ministry outputs (programs, catechesis, training), and accurate analysis of required resources (staff, space, communications, budget).


Development of effective ministry implementation strategies and action plans is equally important in supporting effective ministry. A risk for planners is spending great energy and time on the planning phase while giving the implementation stage limited thought. This is especially true for long-term planning. Great strategic plans and church visions have been created only to sit on a shelf or in a computer. Over time they are unused and forgotten as new staff and leaders are unaware of (not part of orientation) or not encouraged to use the existing plans.

Key factors for successful implementation include:

  • stakeholder buy-in during planning
  • comprehensive & consistent communication of plan components
  • clear staff & leadership accountabilities for plan implementation
  • collaborative versus competitive ministry environment
  • planned progress check-in points [see Evaluation]


In my experience, this is the weakest link for churches. When I work with church staff & leaders on long-term planning efforts, I encourage them to share outcomes from previous planning programs with the current planning team. I often get a moment of silence and eyes looking at the floor. When I ask a follow up question about available evaluation documents, I often find out that no effort has been made to measure and record outcomes from previous planning sessions.

Evaluation concepts must flow through each component of the PIE Model including:

  • clear identification of measurable ministry outcomes in the planning component
  • communication of ministry outcomes and assigned accountability to achieve these outcomes during the implementation component
  • planned & scheduled progress evaluation action steps relative to planning time frame (weekly, quarterly, annually)

Without adequate attention to each of these PIE Model components, ministry will often wander and fail to achieve consistent ministry outcomes that support your church mission and vision. Over the next several weeks, we will explore each of these components in more detail as we seek our common goal of faith-filled, effective ministry at our churches. If you have examples of planning, implementation & evaluation of ministry that have worked well in your church, we hope you will share it with us.

The Center for Parish Leadership is available to assist you with your planning efforts. Please contact us to discuss how we can work with your staff and leaders to develop effective ministry planning practices. If you would like to read previous Weekly Research Updates, you will find them on our website blog.


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