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Fail to Plan…Plan to Fail

Believe it or not, in all the churches we’ve worked with—from micros to megas—nearly none of them had a good process for routinized strategic planning.

It’s becoming much rarer in churches today, but I can remember in certain schools-of-thought that strategic planning was seen as being anti-Holy Spirit—as if we were boxing in the Spirit of God. Those of us who came from more charismatic backgrounds loved these verses in James:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. JAMES 4:13, 14

But somehow we overlooked the plethora of Biblical passages on planning…and particularly the unique ways that Jesus planned his ministry.

For instance, Jesus had short-term plans and goals, as expressed when some Pharisees came and told him that Herod was looking to kill him. In a tough-as-nails response, Jesus said, “Tell that fox that I’ve no time for him right now. Today and tomorrow I’m busy clearing out the demons and healing the sick; the third day I’m wrapping things up.” LUKE 13:32 (MESSAGE VERSION)

His Three-Year-Plan was Luke 4:18-19. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to announce the time of God’s favor.” He seemed to know that this was a multi-year plan of modeling a clear mission and even told people in the early stages of his ministry not to tell anyone who it was that healed them; he was working within a clear timeline.

Finally, Jesus had a Several-Thousand-Year Plan: The Church. “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell won’t prevail…” MATTHEW 16:18b

Jesus had a strategic plan by which he would accomplish his objective of building a collection of people through whom he would roll out the Kingdom of God, his rule and reign.

Do you have a regularly scheduled (annual? biennial?) 1-to-2 year strategic planning day with your leadership team? How else will you accomplish your organization’s mission?

Dave Workman | The Elemental Group


The FOCUS kit is a strategic planning tool-in-a-box! Take your team through a strategic planning exercise that's thought-provoking and fun. You'll come away with clear goals, strategies, timelines, and accountability with a game plan to move your church forward. We've taken the pain out of strategic planning using game theory along with an innovative prayer component. Check it out here!


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