In June the Methodist Children’s Home Board of Directors unanimously approved a new strategic plan titled, “Imagine 2028.” This plan, designed to guide the ministry for the next five years, “will keep us focused on key areas of growth while allowing us to be flexible with timing and funding plans,” said MCH President and CEO Trey Oakley.
Oakley explained the theme of the strategic plan is inspired by Ephesians 3:20, “an important promise that has sustained Methodist Children’s Home since 1890: ‘Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by His power at work within us.’”
“This verse reminds us that we are not alone as we carry out this strategic plan and our daily work, and that God’s power is working in and through us to achieve far beyond what we could ask or imagine,” Oakley said. “It is also a reminder that we, as Christ-followers, must give our best for the children, youth and families we serve.
“We are called to imagine – to dream big – through this strategic plan for what MCH can accomplish during the next five years,” he added. “What an encouragement, what a vision and what an amazing God who empowers us to do great things.”
Bryan Mize, strategic initiatives specialist, guided the strategic planning process with the executive management team for nearly a year, looking at how the ministry would springboard from the previous three-year strategic plan. The team saw the heart of the 2019 plan as one to build upon for the future.
“Four years ago, nearly 180 employees, Board members and other stakeholders participated in focus groups to contribute to the strategic planning process,” Mize said. “When the executive management team evaluated the status of the strategic plan earlier this year, one of the priorities was to continue to benefit from the outstanding work conducted by the previous planning groups. This led to the decision to carry over some of the action steps that remain relevant and will continue to challenge MCH to strengthen programs, services and operations at the highest level.”
Completed action steps were eliminated, others addressing similar needs were revised and consolidated and new action steps were proposed.
“Imagine 2028 was intentionally developed with the flexibility that will enable MCH to add or revise action steps based on changing priorities during the next five years,” Mize said.
The last four years taught the entire organization the necessity of being nimble and to expect the unexpected, Oakley noted. MCH navigated and weathered a global pandemic, substantial changes in external influences on ministries like MCH and changes to the workplace in large part through the intentionality of the organization’s strategic plan, he said.
“It is a tremendous source of encouragement to look back and see how our commitment to the strategic plan has kept us going,” Oakley emphasized. “We didn’t approve the plan and then set it aside. It became a living, breathing document that truly served to propel us forward and keep us focused during some uncertain and unpredictable times.
“So, we know as we adopt Imagine 2028 that whatever conflict arises, we have what it takes to stay focused and push through,” he said. “Secondly, this structure allows us to have the creativity that we do need as an organization to ensure our vision and mission positively impact all we serve.”
Imagine 2028 consists of three prioritiesnaddressing the MCH Continuum of Care, Organizational Culture & Communication, and Funding, Stewardship & Collaboration.
“In developing this strategic plan, we determined that these three pillars, or headings, were paramount,” Oakley said. “You’re not going to find anything better to propel MCH forward than our continuum of care, our organizational culture, and funding, financing and external connections.”
IMPROVING SERVICE DELIVERY
One of the major goals addressed in the strategic plan involves starting, implementing and evaluating what the next version of the MCH Boys Ranch will look like. Following extensive study, MCH leadership approved transitioning programming at the Boys Ranch to integrate youth with higher levels of needs, Oakley said.
“This discussion and planning is at the heart of this current budget year that bridges the previous strategic plan with this one,” Oakley said. “The budget is dominated by the allocation of resources that we will need to support an upstart program at the Boys Ranch and carry it out with excellence.”
In preparing for the change to serve higher-need placements at the Boys Ranch, MCH leadership also identified a great upside to relocating all aspects of the basic-care residential program to the Waco campus.
“In the past, residents participating in spiritual development programs, extracurricular activities, school events, and athletics had to be shuttled back and forth, sometimes multiple times a day,” Oakley said. “There is great benefit for our residents served in our basic care program to be on the same campus. I know our staff will maximize these efficiencies and the opportunities that arise for our residents in this new approach.”
But at the heart of this change is the calling to be part of the solution facing young people who require an extra layer of services that often go unmet due to lack of providers, he added.
“When faced with a huge challenge, it is a much easier place to pass on the big risky moves,” Oakley said. “Our Board of Directors joins with our leadership in asking, ‘But if not us, then who?’ We have to at least try to stretch ourselves and see if we can be successful in this area. This situation is so desperate for those who fit these higher-need categories.”
Further details about developments at the Boys Ranch will be shared soon with supporters and like-minded service providers, Oakley noted.
The Imagine 2028 logo incorporates visual elements of the four statements found within ONE MCH, the strategic commitments introduced in 2019: Five-Star Service, Authentic Accountability, Focused and Flexible Ministries, and Culture of Learning.
In the strategic plan, the goal to update service delivery to meet current and emerging needs calls for a wraparound strategy incorporating ONE MCH through the entire continuum of service. Promoting a culture of valued employees committed to the mission of the ministry and ONE MCH is also emphasized in the priority addressing organizational culture and communication.
“The gospel is first,” Oakley said. “You don’t have ONE MCH without our mission and vision and commitment to be Christ-centered. ONE MCH is a tool and framework for employees to translate our mission and vision practically as they go about their daily work.
“It’s how we communicate; it’s our introduction – from the literature used during the admissions process to the first moment people come in contact with this organization whether they are seeking help, employment or to support with resources,” he explained. “We want ONE MCH to be our first hello, and also influence how we make big decisions and navigate daily to-do lists. And even on the other side of it, when someone leaves our care or program, we hope the skillset they take with them – whether or not they ever call it ONE MCH – would become a part of who they are as they go reinvest themselves in their communities and families.”
The Imagine 2028 strategic plan is about a collective responsibility to work with excellence, which, for believers in Christ, is supplemented by the fact that God is already at work accomplishing far more than we can even imagine, Oakley said.
“In my 24 years of being connected to MCH and in my current role as president since 2019, this is the most confident and excited I have been that great days are ahead for this ministry,” he said. “I am grateful to our staff, Board members, supporters, and other stakeholders who spoke into and helped influence the creation of this strategic plan. I have no doubt that in 2028 when we look back at where we began and what we expected from this plan, we will once again be amazed and grateful that God did so much more than we could have ever imagined.”
If you would like to read the strategic plan in its entirety or download your own copy, please visit the MCH Resources page on our website, MCH.org.