The Stove Top Strategy

By Susan Troth

You would think that someone who talks about the Stove Top Method as much as I do in Worship Administration class would be a foodie. Don’t get me wrong – I love great food. I just won’t be the one to prepare it. I’m more of a basic “meat plus three” cook. However, I love to talk with my students about using a Stove Top Method to strategize for their ministry. Can we pause here and ponder the amount of truth that God shares in his Word about wisdom in planning and what an example He has given us of a God that strategizes?


The definition of strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a major or overall aim.

Amos 3:7 gives us a glimpse into God’s heart:

"Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7

He has plans and ways of working, and there have been and will continue to be times that he reveals his plans to his servants. This is a fantastic example to follow. But you might not be like me and love administration (I know…crazy). One time, my adult choir roasted me and unfurled a 40-year plan for Easter on a roll of computer paper (back when it was on rolls!). This is where the Stove Top Method helps us plan.

Think of a stovetop with three rows of burners.

The Back Row

Let’s start with the back row. These simmering pots are the long-range strategies for your ministry. What is God burdening your heart to accomplish for Him in the next 5 – 8 years? Is it missions, a new building, new outreach plans, new bands, new choirs, or a new soundboard? Begin to put these pots on the back row and pray about them, discuss them with the inner circle of your staff and ministry team, and then watch for God’s direction toward these plans. You should stir these pots about once a month or once a quarter, but you should attend to them, or they will never cook.

The Middle Row

The middle row of burners is full of annual plans – Easter, VBS, camps, budgets, and Christmas. You better kick up the heat on these pots and stir once a month at least. They will head to the front row as you get closer to the events. If you don’t stir these pots, they are hot enough that they will scald, so you need to work toward these annual events consistently.

The Front Row

The front row is always hot – your weekly services, rehearsals, pastoral care, and staff meetings must be refreshed every week. These will boil over if you are always a last-minute person, and you don’t stir constantly. You should plan for more than one week at a time. It would help if you also decided which row to put your family vacation, conferences, and mentoring leaders in your ministry, and you will also need to pivot quickly for church family needs, such as funeral services.

Whew! Being a Stove Top Strategist is not for the faint of heart, but like a great chef, if we are wise; we will work with a team to help us create a glorious ministry that will feed the sheep and reach outside our pasture to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Bon Appetit!

Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”

Susan Troth
Professor Troth serves as the Associate Professor of WOrship at Cedarville University. She served as Minister of Worship for 13 years and enjoyed developing choral, instrumental, media, and drama ministries for churches. She taught music in K–12 classrooms, and her choirs have been featured in performances on radio and TV in New York and Orlando as well as performing for various choral premiers. While serving as Assistant Conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus and the Singing Women of Florida, she performed in Carnegie Hall and abroad. Professor Troth performed a series of concerts in Belgium in 2000 as an outreach for the WMU of Florida.


  • M.M., University of South Florida
  • B.M., Baylor University
  • Certified Master Trainer of Estill Voice Training

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